As a general rule there are two ways to pay an attorney for his or her services. The traditional method would be to pay attorney’s fees based upon the amount of time that the attorney spends on your case. If you hire an attorney by the hour the amount you owe the attorney for his or her services will be dependent upon the amount of time they have to spend on your case. Hourly rates for attorney service often are not the same. The determination of the reasonableness of a fee requires consideration of all relevant circumstances. The fees of a lawyer will vary according to many factors including the time required, the lawyer’s experience, ability and reputation, the nature of the employment, the responsibility involved and the results obtained. As soon as feasible after a lawyer has been employed, it is desirable that the lawyer reach a clear agreement with the client as to what the lawyer will charge for his or her services.
Contingent fee arrangements in civil cases have long been commonly accepted in the United States in certain proceedings in which a party is seeking to enforce their rights. Examples of cases wherein contingent fee arrangements often are entered into would be cases involving personal injuries, professional negligence including medical malpractice, products liability cases, and workers’ compensation cases.
The historical basis for contingent fee agreements is that in a variety of circumstances a contingent fee is the only practical means by which one having a claim against another can economically afford, finance and obtain the services of a competent lawyer to prosecute their claim. If the claim is successfully handled, at the conclusion of the case there will be an amount of money out of which a contingency fee can be paid by the client. The amount of the contingency fee should be clearly set forth in the fee agreement at the outset. Factors that will influence the amount of the contingency fee include but are not limited to the complexity of the problem, the amount of time expected to be involved in the handling of the case, the risks of the case, the risks of non-recovery, and the overall difficulty of the problem or matter.
In addition to attorney’s fees, there usually are costs associated with the handling of any legal claim. It is not uncommon for law firms to require that clients pay for the costs associated with pursuing their case. If you do hire a lawyer you should make sure you understand clearly what costs of your case you will be expected to pay.