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Setting Fees

Lawyers set fees in various ways.  Lawyers bill for their work primarily in one of two ways:  hourly or by flat fee.  When determining fees, lawyers take into account the specific circumstances of the case, the expected time required on the case and the difficulty of the issues involved.  Lawyers may also take into account other considerations.  It can be difficult for a lawyer to estimate the exact amount of fees in advance.  However, a lawyer may provide a fee estimate.  Some attorneys offer a free initial consultation.    

Many attorneys charge a fixed hourly fee for their services.  The total charge is calculated by multiplying the number of hours an attorney has spent on a case by thehourly fee.   Court filing costs, long distance telephone charges, transportation costs, photocopy charges and all other charges are added to the fee.  The hourly rate for attorneys varys depending upon his or her geographic location, experience, and area of expertise.

Fixed or flat fees may be charged for frequently performed services.  Such services often include drafting wills or assisting with real estate transactions.

In cases like personal injury, collections and workers’ compensation the attorney representing a person may accept a part of the recovery as the fee.  Such fee arrangement is called a contingent fee arrangement.  Contingent fees are usually fixed as a percentage of the recovery.  Attorneys may charge an additional percentage if the case is tried more than once or appealed to a higher court.  If the action is unsuccessful, the attorney will not recover any fees, but may charge court filing costs, transportation costs, investigation costs, and fees paid to witnesses.

A judge may set attorney’s fees in some cases like the probating of an estate.  In certain types of cases attorney may request a judge to order an opposing party to pay legal fees.

It is always important that an attorney fully explain and put in writing the expected fee arrangement with each client.

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