How much will it cost me to hire an attorney? — Hiring a Business Law Attorney in Coral Springs, Parkland and Florida.
The answer to this question is almost always, “it depends.” Attorney fees vary depending on factors specific to the matter in question. It is important to ask a Coral Springs, Parkland and Florida business law attorney not only how much it will cost to hire him or her, but it is equally important to ask the attorney what the fee amount actually covers.
Comparing Different Fee Structures and Types of Attorney Fees
Attorneys bill for their services based on one or more arrangements. Some billing arrangements are common for specific types of legal matters. For example, many personal injury lawyers use contingency fee agreements, while an attorney who is preparing a will for a client may charge a flat fee.
Below is a short description of the various types of attorney fee structures you might encounter:
- Hourly Rates
Billing based on the hours spent working on a legal matter is one of the most common types of attorney fee structures. Hourly billing requires careful and detailed documentation of all time spent working on a case. The hourly fee is outlined in the retainer agreement, signed by the attorney and the client. The hourly rate varies depending on the legal matter, the area of law, the attorney’s experience and education, and whether the attorney specializes in a specific area of law.
In many large firms, the attorney also charges for the time his or her staff works on your matter. The hourly rate for associate attorneys, paralegals, and other staff members are billed separately from the attorney’s time, and the fee is based on the person’s role and credentials. In addition to the attorney’s fee and the fee for staff members, costs and expenses are billed to the client.
Most attorneys require a retainer fee when a client hires the law firm. A retainer fee is an upfront fee or a “down payment” for legal services. As the attorney bills the client, the fees and costs are deducted from the retainer fee. Once the retainer fee is expended, the client will be directly billed based on a periodic schedule. Some attorneys include a clause in their retainer agreement that retainer fees are non-refundable, or a portion of the retainer fee is non-refundable.
- Contingency Fee
In this fee structure, a client does not pay an attorney his or her fees until the case is resolved. Contingency fees are commonly used in personal injury cases. The client agrees to pay the attorney a percentage of the amount recovered from the claim through a settlement or a trial. As an example, an attorney agrees to accept 30% of the amount recovered as their fee. So if your recovery is $100,000, the attorney keeps $30,000. Typically, if the attorney does not recover any money for the claim, the client does not owe the attorney any money.
- Flat Fee
Flat fees are used by attorneys for legal matters that are well-defined, simple, and specific. These are usually “transactional” matters. Examples of legal matters that are often billed on a flat fee basis include patents, bankruptcy filings, wills, uncontested divorces, and real estate closings. However, most attorneys include a clause in their agreement that allows for hourly billing for additional services not included in the flat fee agreement.
Other Expenses Related to the Case
In addition to attorney’s fees, the client is typically responsible for paying the costs and expenses related to the matter. Additional costs vary greatly depending on the legal matter and the specific case. Some of the common costs and expenses billed directly to a client include:
- Travel expenses and mileage
- Photocopying fees
- Court filing fees
- Expert witness fees
- Deposition costs
It is important to discuss the payment of costs and expenses when you discuss attorney fees.
Contact a Florida Business Law Attorney for Help
Hiring a Florida business law attorney is an investment in your business. An attorney experienced in legal matters related to businesses can assist in choosing the best structure for your business, draft contracts and agreements to protect you and your business, and provide legal advice and guidance on every aspect of your business operations. Having an attorney on retainer ensures that you have a constant and trusted source for legal advice, and representation when you need it the most.
Matthew Fornaro provides comprehensive business law services to clients throughout Broward County. To request a consultation, call 954-324-3651 or contact us online.