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Negotiating Legal Fees

Questioning an attorney bill is not that uncommon in today’s world. In fact, state and local bar associations both consistently report that fee disputes are some of the most common complaints that they receive against lawyers. This has even led some states to start up certain attorney-client fee dispute programs to resolve the issues. While attorney fees are most certainly not cheap, it is important to remember that in most cases the fees are, indeed, justified.

Lawyers typically have a few different types of fees, those of which include fixed fees, conditional fee arrangements, contingency fees and their general hourly rates. Fixed fees are fixed prices that may include just the lawyer’s fees or some additional aspects of the service. Conditional fee agreements are a sort of “no win, no cost” agreement. If you lose your case, in general, you will not be required to pay a fee. However, you still may be held liable for some out-of-pocket expenses, such as court fees. If your lawyer agrees to represent you under a contingency agreement, they will be able to claim a certain percentage of any money they win on your behalf plus expenses.

It is important to keep in mind that when a lawyer is handling a case for you, they are helping to make your life easier. They eat, sleep and breathe your case from start to completion, handling stressors so you don’t have to. Essentially, your problems are now their problems. They work early mornings and late nights diligently to complete your case in a timely manner, and, if need be, will represent you in court.  When a lawyer is working on your case, they’re giving up time that could be devoted to other cases and the ability to earn money on other cases.  Lawyers are, no doubt, worth all the money they are asking and it is important to be respectful of their work when it comes to asking for a fee reduction. Lawyers know the true value of their work, and, if they are reputable, then they will not go out of their way to charge you an amount of money that is unfair. It is necessary to keep their hard work in mind, and someone asking them to lower their fees may come across as rude or insulting.

Lawyers are expensive, but you get a lot for your money. If you are unhappy with your attorney’s fees, the best way to go about handling the issue is to be open and honest. Explain why you are incapable of paying the fees, and if there are any other options for you. Many lawyers offer a variety of fee arrangements such as flat fees, deferred payments, reduced scale of representation or offer different payment plans. Lawyers may, oftentimes, have the ability to assign work to junior associates to keep costs lower, such as a combination of associates, paralegals or partners. However, if a high level of obligation is required for your case, the legal fee can only drop so much.  You never want an attorney working for you that is dissatisfied with the fee they receive.  How effective will a dissatisfied attorney be?  Reducing the cost of legal services past a certain point, may result in a reduction in the lawyer’s service to the client.

At Hobson-Williams, P.C., we understand that facing attorney fees may be overwhelming for some. Rest assured that our lawyers are on your side, and would never charge you more than what your case is worth. We are here to help you, and we will do everything in our power to get your life back on track for a price that is beneficial to everyone involved. Call us today at (718) 210-4744 for more information or to schedule a consultation.