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Why do Attorneys charge different fees


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One attorney wants a $2,500 retainer, while another attorney will handle the matter for 40% of your recovery. Why the difference? For the most part, it depends upon which type of case that you have as to how the attorney will charge you.

Almost all Personal Injury Attorneys charge a percentage of recovery. Some charge 40%, others charge 33%, it all depends upon the Attorney and the specific type of case. In some minor's claims, the fee may be only 25%. This type of fee is called a contingency fee. A contingency fee means that the Attorney's compensation is contingent upon obtaining a favorable settlement offer or prevailing at trial. Personal Injury Attorneys typically handle injury claims on this basis because it benefits both the Attorney and the Client. The benefit to the Attorney is obvious, in that he will be receiving up to 40% of the total recovery on a given claim. The larger the claim, the larger the recovery. There are benefits to the Client as well. The Client has an Attorney representing his/her interests essentially for free, at least in terms of out-of-pocket expenditures. On a given injury claim, the Attorney will usually front the monies (if this is permitted in your state) that are required to commence and continue with your claim. This may include obtaining medical records, witness statements, expert witnesses, the court filing fees and so forth. These expenses can add up rather quickly, and the Client will not have to pay for them, at least initially. The other benefit to the Client is that if the claim does not produce anything, the Client does not have to pay the Attorney a fee. You can see that the Attorney is facing a risk here, in that he may produce an enormous amount of work on a given case, and he may end up with nothing. Others types of Attorney also follow the contingency fee model. Social Security Disability, Workmen's Compensation, Collections and Wrongful Death are other types of cases that are usually handled on a contingency fee basis.

Other Attorneys charge an hourly fee for their services. The hourly fee is exactly how it sounds, the Attorney charges a certain fee for each hour that he/she spends working on a certain matter. The hourly fee can vary enormous amounts based upon the skill level of the Attorney and the type of work being performed. A partner at a large tax firm might be charging up to $750 per hour for each hour spent on a given matter, while a junior associate at a small suburban firm may be charging $100 per hour. Many types of cases are handled on an hourly basis, including most Family Law matters such as Divorce, Custody, Support and Equitable Distribution, Criminal Law, Real Estate, Contracts and Civil Defense.

There is a third type of fee that an Attorney might charge for his services - the Flat Fee. A Flat Fee is a one time charge for a specific undertaking, no matter the amount of time expended. You might be charged $50 or $100 for a simple letter. A Last Will and Testament may cost $100 to $400. An appearance in Traffic Court might cost $250 to $1000. These are all examples of flat fee services, and there are many others as well.

When consulting with an Attorney, ask specific questions as to how you will be charged for the legal services to ensure that there are no surprises when you get the bill.

About the Author

Greg Artim is an Attorney based in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. For more information regarding this or other legal issues, please visit his website at

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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2007-04-12 08:53:56 in Legal Articles

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