Despite popular belief, there are three certainties in life: death, taxes, and the need for lawyers. Lawyers provide a variety of valuable services that extend beyond just the courtroom, and they’re typically paid handsomely for their work.
In 2017, the median salary for a lawyer was $119,250 and the top 25% of lawyers made over $178,000. But how much does a lawyer cost if you were to hire one?
Well, let’s crunch the numbers.
How Much Does a Lawyer Cost?
When it comes to receiving payments, lawyers prefer to get their money in various ways and for various amounts. It’s dependent on the work being done and the estimated length of the job. This will be ironed out during your first legal consultation.
Lawyers typically prefer to be paid in one of these ways: hourly, on contingency, on retainer, or a flat fee.
Hourly billing for lawyers works the same as just about any other independent contractors. Your lawyer will track how much time they spend on your case and will bill you accordingly. Very simple stuff.
Being paid on contingency means that if you’re suing for damages or restitution, your lawyer will get a cut of your winnings in court. This is a popular payment method for class action lawsuits and worker’s comp cases (learn more here).
Hiring a lawyer on retainer means you pay them up front (generally a large amount) to manage whatever legal issues you may have. You’re essentially paying them a salary to work for you. This is a popular thing to do for celebrities, companies, and rich businesspeople.
And lastly, there is the flat fee. Here, your lawyer will estimate the cost of doing the job and bill you accordingly.
So How Much Will You Pay?
Once, you’ve figured out how your attorney likes to be paid, you can begin estimating the costs of services. The price you pay will depend on how experienced your lawyer is, the complexity of your case, and where you live.
Since hourly billing is the most common practice, we’ll focus on that. There is a widely accepted guideline for attorney billing known as the Laffey Matrix that determines how much a lawyer should be charging based on their years of experience.
The Matrix stipulates that lawyers starting their careers should be charging $240 per hour for their services, and lawyers with the most experience should be charging $495 per hour.
As you can see, hiring a lawyer isn’t cheap, no matter how you slice it. But if you live in a smaller town, a lawyer’s rate will be cheaper, on average.
Need More Help Managing Your Finances?
Hopefully, this article has helped you prepare for paying lawyer costs. The prices are pretty steep, but it’s more than worth it if you’re in serious legal trouble.
If you need any more advice or information about finances and spending, be sure to check out the finance section of our website! You’ll find everything you need right there.