How Much Will My Case Cost?
Legal services tend to be expensive.
It’s a fact of life in the United States that if you need to hire an attorney to help you with a legal issue, even for something that may seem small to you, that it’s likely to cost hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars.
Legal fees and other fees related to any given case have a way of piling up.
Some attorneys work by the hour. Other attorneys, like us, tend to offer flat-fee prices whenever possible.
Below we discuss some of the costs you are likely to expect in your case. We publish this information in an effort to be transparent. After all, it’s best to know the facts up front so that you can plan financially for your case.
The Cost of an Attorney
What to Expect in Terms of Price
Expect to pay somewhere around $300 an hour for attorney time working on your case.
$300 an hour may sound like a lot, and while that number is a good starting point, you should know that the cost of hiring an attorney varies based on a number of factors.
First, geography often plays a role. Attorneys in New York tend to bill more per hour than attorneys in Alabama. This reflects differences in cost of living generally in addition to other factors.
Second, practice area makes a difference. Attorneys working on a large corporate merger will typically charge more per hour than routine criminal defense work. Appeals cost more than cases in lower courts.
Third, experience is a factor. Attorneys with experience, skill, and connections with judges and others in the legal community have a higher price tag than recent law school graduates.
For more information about the cost of attorneys, consider the Laffey Matrix. The Laffey Matrix is a case-law based chart published by the Department of Justice on an annual basis and lays out what it considers to be a “reasonable” rate for attorney’s fees.
According to the Laffey Matrix, expect to pay somewhere around $300/hour for newer attorneys, and as high as $800/hour for more experienced attorneys.
Factors mentioned above can raise or lower the expected rate. In some areas $200/hour is standard, while in others $400/hour is the lowest you can find.
Flat Fees versus Hourly Pricing
One of the biggest complaints the public has about attorney costs isn’t necessarily the price tag, but how the price adds up.
Predictability is very important because it allows you, the client, to better plan and pay for the service you’ll receive. As law firms and attorneys struggle in this post-recession economy, a number of new pricing tactics have emerged.
Because hourly pricing can sometimes be difficult to predict–cases have a way of blowing up when you least expect–many attorneys have begun to offer flat fees for their services. This type of billing allows the attorney to charge perhaps a little more per case than normal, while giving the client peace of mind knowing that their legal fee is what it is.
We offer flat fees in the majority of our case work.
Before you get started with your case, you should also understand that you won’t be paying for just legal services. There are other costs involved that you need to pay that may appear on your legal bill.
Consider the following.
If your case requires anything to be submitted to the court, there will likely be a filing fee accompanying it. These fees vary depending on the court system and the type of case.
Courts may charge to file anything from a simple application to submitting an affidavit in an ongoing case. So when an attorney files documents on your behalf, the cost will be added to your bill.
For many cases, where the federal or state government is involved, there are mandatory fees to pay in addition to attorneys’ hourly rates.
For example, if your immigration attorney is preparing and submitting an application for naturalization on your behalf, you will pay the attorney your agreed upon rate in addition to the $595 filing fee to USCIS for the application.
If a party to a case or a third party needs to be interviewed, then there is a cost involved. You may need to rent space, pay a court reporter, hire someone to film or record the deposition and pay other costs.
If your case requires translations, either for documents or in-person meetings, the attorney will tack on the cost of the translator to your bill.
The cost of legal research may also be added to your bill. In some situations attorneys must pay high prices for access to research databases. This cost is usually included in your bill.
Printing, files, postage, etc.
The little costs of printing, keeping and maintaining a filing system, postage and other office expenses add up.
At the end of each day, our law firm goes through multiple reams of paper, pays postage for several heavy packages, and possibly an ink cartridge or two as well.
Is It Worth the Money?
Legal issues are complex and stressful. Depending on the issue, much more than money is at stake.
For such important matters, you want your case to be in competent hands. It is well worth the cost to pay for an attorney to improve your chances of success.