Understanding Lawyer Fees and Costs
It is important to understand that a Telephone Conversation / consultation does not create an attorney client privilege. It is only meant to provide general information to you. If you intend to create attorney client relationship and privileges you must set an appointment with the lawyer and request for such privileges. This is usually done after you have decided to go with a lawyer or a law firm to represent your case.
When you select a lawyer make sure that you clearly understand how you will be charged for their services. A retainer agreement is a document that the lawyer will provide you prior to rendering any services. This agreement should set forth the different fees and costs involved in dealing with your case. The following are the generally accepted methods in which clients are usually charged:
- Hourly rate - This is the most commonly practiced form of charges. Almost every activity that a lawyer performs on your behalf, from phone calls and writing letters to research, all result in a fee.
- Fixed Rates - This method is common for situations where the lawyer has to draft a will, trust, partnership agreement or other such fixed service. It is usually practiced for non contentious cases requiring fixed work hours.
- Conditional fees ("No Win, No Fee") - This form of retainer is most common in personal injury cases where you are suing another party for some form of monetary compensation. With this arrangement a lawyer does not charge you for the services if you lose the case, but instead takes a higher amount if you win. If you lose, you will still have to pay the costs of the person you sued or were sued by. Alternately you can buy an insurance to cover you against this risk.
You may also be asked to pay disbursements. These are expenses that are incurred by the lawyer on your behalf. Some of these expenses can range from photocopies to travel costs to court fees.
In many cases a lawyers will not outline their fees till the time they have fully understood your case requirements. They will take into consideration factors that are not known until you have been interviewed. If you find a lawyer that is a match for you, but doesn't have a rate listed, you could still benefit from arranging a meeting. Once you have met with the lawyer and received a retainer agreement, it is important that you clearly understand the different fees and costs prior to signing it. If you don't understand something, ask the lawyer to clarify it for you.
The above mentioned facts provide you certain guidelines towards determining legal costs. AllGoodLawyers.com
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