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The Top Factors That Affect an Attorney’s Rates

The Top Factors That Affect an Attorney's Rates
Image by Rafa Bordes from Pixabay

When legal services are needed, many people wonder – how much will these legal services cost? This is a good question. Unfortunately, there is no straightforward answer to it. The cost of legal services depends on many things.

For anyone who wants to know the cost of an attorney, it is smart to start the search by knowing what factors can impact this price. Keep reading to learn about the factors that may impact the fees charged by a lawyer.

The Billing Method Used by the Lawyer

Most lawyers charge by the hour; however, this is not a hard and fast rule. The hourly rate charged by an attorney is dependent on the factors listed below. Usually, hourly rates are going to vary, and a person should expect to pay between $150 and $500 per hour.

Sometimes, lawyers will bill clients on a flat fee basis for specific services. This usually includes things like trademark filings, wills, and corporate formations. One of the best things about flat fee billing is that the costs charged by the lawyers will not fluctuate based on the total number of hours they work. This is because the fee is typically arranged, agreed on, and then paid up front.

There are other situations, like many patent infringement or personal injury lawsuits, where a lawyer is paid on a contingency basis. This type of lawyer will charge their clients a percentage of the judgment or settlement received. Also, attorneys that bill like this will only receive payment if the case is successful.

To figure out the true cost of a personal injury lawyer, it is necessary to factor in the settlement percentage they will receive for winning the case (usually this is around 33%) and the total amount of the settlement received.

Prestige and Size of the Law Firm

Usually, a lawyer from a more reputable and bigger law firm are going to cost more money to hire than an attorney in a solo practice or a smaller law firm. This means the reputation and size of the law firm where the attorney works is an essential factor to consider when hiring an attorney and when trying to figure out how much legal services will cost.

If someone is dealing with a more complex matter, it could be worth the additional cost to work with an expensive or more high-end law firm. However, in other situations, it may be best to work with a smaller firm or solo attorney to reduce fees and costs.

Type of Legal Work or Area of Law

Some types of legal work are more costly than the others. The amount that lawyers charge is directly impacted by the legal work being done. For example, if someone needs legal services in a highly specialized area of law, such as patent prosecution, they are going to cost more than more “everyday” services, such as estate planning. The area of law someone needs services in is also going to determine the billing structure that is used. This is going to be a flat fee, hourly, or contingency based.

Total Cases Handled by the Lawyer

The cost of an attorney is often directly related to the number of years they have been practicing law. Similar to fine wine, attorneys seem to get better as they age.

Lawyers that have been practicing for three decades are going to be very knowledgeable and have higher levels of expertise in one or several areas of the law. As a result, services from this lawyer are going to be more expensive. However, an attorney that is just out of law school will likely not cost as much. According to information from the law of supply and demand, hiring a qualified attorney is going to cost more than one with fewer qualifications.

Jurisdiction Where Legal Services Are Offered

The cost of a lawyer’s services will vary based on different parts of the country. Lawyers who work in a rural setting may not have as big of a pool of clients, but there is also much less competition from other legal services.

What this means is that, on average, rural-area attorneys, will cost less than attorneys in bigger metropolitan areas, such as New York City or Los Angeles. Lawyers in farming communities in Los Angeles will likely cost between $400 and $500 per hour. When trying to figure out the cost of an attorney, where they practice -; an urban or rural area -; is going to come into play.

Finding the Right Attorney

When it is time to find the right attorney, there are several factors to consider. Take some time to think about the information here, as it will help a person figure out what is being charged. However, the right lawyer matters. Even if an individual has to pay more for a qualified attorney, it will be worth it in the long run.

Take some time to get recommendations about what attorney to use. These can be gathered from friends and family and from online review sites. Get to know about the cases the attorney has represented in the case and how successful they have been. All this information is going to impact the results that are achieved and if someone should hire the attorney being considered or move on to find someone else.

Hiring an Attorney

For most people, the cost of legal services is a huge factor that plays into who they hire. Knowing the factors that impact this can help them make the right decision for their legal situation and their financial situation. By reviewing the information above, an individual will have a good idea about what to consider when hiring a legal service provider.

Keep in mind, finding the right attorney is going to pay off in the long run. Being informed, knowing what to expect, and ensuring that a quality attorney is found is essential. Remember, no one wants to be in a situation where they need legal services but knowing what to expect will help with the situation.