Hourly Fee vs. Contingent Fee

As is the case with doctors, carpenters, mechanics and just about every other occupation, attorneys typically charge a fee for their work.

Sometimes clients are charged an hourly fee for work their lawyer performs. The hourly rate lawyers charge can vary considerably depending on a number of factors, including the complexity of the case, the experience of the lawyer and even geography (a lawyer in New York City will have a higher hourly rate than a lawyer in a small, rural town).

Lawyers working on an hourly basis will commonly charge a retainer.

A retainer is an advance payment that is deposited with the attorney and against which the attorney will bill his time. If the retainer is used up, the client is usually billed monthly for any excess. If the retainer isn’t fully used it is refunded. A lawyer working on an hourly basis will charge you for all of the time he or she spends working on your case. If you hire a lawyer to represent you on an hourly basis, you will owe him money whether you win or lose your case.

Criminal matters and divorces are examples of cases which are often handled on an hourly basis.

Other times, a lawyer will agree to charge the client a contingent fee.

In a contingent fee arrangement, the lawyer agrees to accept a fixed percentage of what the client receives.

If your lawyer is representing you on a contingent fee basis, his fee comes out of your recovery. If you lose, neither you nor your lawyer will get any money and you will not be required to pay your attorney for the work he did on your case.

Many clients believe there are advantages to a contingency fee arrangement over an hourly fee. The most obvious example is that the lawyer only receives a fee if he wins the case. This sort of arrangement can be especially attractive when there may be questions about liability or where it appears obvious that the prosecution of the case will take considerable time. Another advantage of a contingent fee arrangement is that it enables clients with limited financial resources to obtain quality legal representation which they might otherwise be unable to afford.

Most personal injury and workers’ compensation cases are handled by lawyers for a contingent fee.

Talk with your lawyer about the fee arrangement that is right for you.  The attorneys of Lewis, Lewis & Falkner are happy to speak with you about fee options.  Call us at 205-553-5353 or come by our Tuscaloosa office today.

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