How do lawyers charge for their services?

There are several common fee arrangements offered by lawyers. With regard to the initial meeting, some lawyers charge their standard hourly rate, some charge a reduced rate, and some offer free initial consultations. During the initial meeting, do not be shy about asking how you will be charged for legal services if you decide to hire that lawyer. Depending on the kind of case you have, you may be charged an up-front flat fee (common in criminal cases) or you may be billed on an hourly basis. When attorneys bill on an hourly basis, they often ask for an upfront deposit known as an advanced fee or retainer fee. This money is held in a trust account for you by the lawyer and the time billed by the lawyer is paid from that account. In a case such as a personal injury case, your lawyer may charge a contingency fee, which is a percentage of any money you recover in the case. Don’t forget to discuss and review what other legal fees and costs might be charged by your lawyer while he or she is representing you. These additional fees can include filing fees paid to a court, photocopying charges, and fees paid to process servers or expert witnesses. You should not hesitate to ask for a written fee agreement from an attorney you hire so that you are clear about how you will be charged. It is preferable to have a written agreement with any attorney you hire.