Legal Fees

How do attorneys set their fees?

Legal fees are set and determined by an agreement or contract between the attorney and the client. The agreement as to what the attorney is to do and how much the client is to pay may be oral or in writing. The amount of the fee and the basis for the charge are determined by a number of factors:


  • The amount of time spent on your problem

  • The attorney's ability, experience, and reputation

  • The results obtained, investigators, and other personnelassistance para-professionalOverhead costs such as secretarial and

  • Your ability to pay

  • Hourly rate, in which the total fee is determined by the attorney's hourly charge times the number of hours required to do the job.

  • The primary types of fee arrangements

  • Fixed fee, in which a specific amount is agreed upon for a known service, such as divorce, bankruptcy, will, incorporation, contract, and defense of a criminal charge.

  • Contingent fee, in which the attorney receives a percentage of an amount recovered on the client's behalf. The client always is expected to pay any out-of-pocket expenses incurred in prosecuting the litigation. If no recovery is made, the attorney receives no fee.

  • Retainer is merely a method by which the attorney is paid. This is when the client makes a "down payment" from which the charges that accrue as the work progresses are deducted.