Different Kinds of Legal Fees

By E-Renter Tenant Screening
Posted on October 24, 2006 under Landlord Tips | icon: commentBe the First to Comment

When you hire a lawyer for your landlord-tenant issues, the kind of fee arrangement arrived at has a significant impact on what is to be paid for his / her services. Legal fees hinge on several factors, i.e.

  • A lawyer’s ability, experience and reputation.
  • Novelty and toughness of the case.
  • Duration of the case.
  • Costs involved, and
  • Outcome of the case.

As well, other factors, such as, the lawyer’s overhead expenses i.e. rent, utilities, office equipment, computers, etc. may also have a direct bearing on the fees charged.

Lawyers use several common types of fee arrangements, as follows:

  1. Consultation Fee: Lawyers may charge a fixed or hourly fee for the first meeting, during the course of which it is determined, whether he / she can assist you or not. Check before hand, if you are going to be charged for this initial or consultation meeting.
  2. Contingency Fees: In this kind of fee arrangement, lawyers base their fees on the percentage of the amount awarded in a case. If, you lose, the lawyer does not get a fee, although, you will still have to pay his / her expenses. Contingency fee percentages vary, however the most common amount is of one-third. Some lawyers offer a sliding scale based on how far along the case has progressed, before it reaches its conclusion.However, courts are allowed to set a limit on the amount of contingency fees, a lawyer may receive. Typically, contingency fee arrangements are used in personal injury cases, property damage cases, or other cases where large sums of money are involved. Again, the court may prohibit lawyers from making contingency fee arrangements in certain case types, such as, criminal and child custody matters. And, contingency fees can not be charged for divorce cases, if the client is being sued, or if the client is seeking general legal advice, perhaps, on the purchase or sale of a business.
  3. Flat Fees: A lawyer charges a total fee, or flat fee, which is usually offered for relatively simple or routine cases, such as, relating to wills or uncontested divorces.
  4. Hourly Rate: In this kind of fee arrangement, lawyers charge for each hour (or portion of an hour) spent on working on a client’s case. Take for example, if the lawyer’s fee is $100 per hour, and he / she works 5-hours on a case, $500 will be the fee charged. Some lawyers may charge different fees for different types of work e.g. legal research vs. court appearance. In addition, lawyers working in large firms typically have different fee scales with more senior members charging higher fees than young associates or paralegals.
  5. Referral Fee: If, a lawyer refers a client to another lawyer, he / she may ask for a portion of the total fee paid for the case. However, applicable state codes of professional responsibility may prohibit referral fees, unless certain criteria are met.
  6. Retainer Fees: The lawyer is paid a set fee, i.e. a retainer, perhaps based on his / her hourly rate. Retainer fees can be considered a kind of down payment, against which future costs are billed. Usually, the retainer is placed in a special account, and service costs are deducted, as they accrue. Mostly, retainer fees are non-refundable, unless deemed unreasonable by a court.As well, a retainer fee can also mean the lawyer is on call to handle a client’s legal problems over a period of time. Retainer fees can mean several different things; therefore, it is a good idea to clarify the arrangement with your lawyer in detail.
  7. Statutory Fee: This kind of fee is usually paid in probate, bankruptcy or other proceedings, and in some cases may be set by statute, or a court may set and approve a fee to be paid by a client.

Whatever, kind of fee arrangement you arrive at, always ask what costs and other expenses are covered in legal fees. Whether, they include overheads and costs, or will they be charged separately? Whether, costs for staff, such as, secretaries, messengers, or paralegal will be charged, as well? In contingency fee arrangements, ensure whether the lawyer will calculate the fee before or after expenses.

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