If you hire a lawyer, you will need to pay them for their services. This article gives you information about what types of things the lawyer will charge you for.
Time spent on the case
The lawyer can charge you for the time they spend on your case. For example, they might make phone calls, go to court, have a meeting, or conduct a deposition. All of these costs should be clearly outlined in any agreement you sign with the lawyer. This is called a retainer or fee agreement.
Lawyer’s fees vary by their level within the firm. For example, an associate lawyer has less than 3 years of experience. They will charge less than an lawyer who is a senior partner at the firm. Lawyer billing rates can range from $200 for an associate to $350 or more for a senior partner.
Other lawyers work on their own. They are called solo practitioners. Their rates can vary widely. So check with them before you sign an agreement.
The law firm representing you may also have paralegals working on your case. Paralegals are people who are not lawyers but who have certain legal skills. Most paralegals are allowed to bill clients for the work they perform. Paralegal rates usually range from $90-$125 per hour.
Court costs and expenses
There are fees for filing a lawsuit. These fees vary by county and range between $300 and $400 depending on the type of lawsuit. Lawyers can charge you for court filing fees.
Lawyers will also charge for copying and postage expenses, including FedEx and UPS. Copy charges are usually $.05 to $0.10 cents per page.
Lawyers will also charge for getting documents and information about your case. This is done with a subpoena. A subpoena is a legal request for information or documents.
The person who receives the subpoena is the “deponent”. Each deponent is allowed a fee for gathering the information, usually $25. If the cost of the information is more than $25, the deponent can get more.
Deposition and witness fees
There are often witnesses to an incident. These witnesses will also be given a subpoena for their deposition. A deposition is a statement under oath where the witness answers questions about the case. The deposition is taken in front of a Notary Public. This is usually a court reporter who is typing the transcript of what everyone says. The court reporting fees can range from $50 to $65 per hour. There is also a fee for the transcript, usually between $2.40 to $3.10 per page.
If your case goes to trial, there could be more fees. Talk to your lawyer about what they think a trial will cost before signing an agreement with them.
Lawyers that don't charge, or charge less
Other lawyers work on a "sliding scale." This means they charge less for people who have less money, and more for people who have more.
If you need a lawyer and can't afford to pay one, use our Get legal help system to see if there is a free or low-cost lawyer near you.
Updated: October 2017