How to Hire an Attorney
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How to Hire an Attorney

Hiring an attorney can be a daunting task, as usually when you require the assistance of one, there is trouble you need help with. Lawyers differ and there are lawyers for everything imaginable. After all, you wouldn’t need the same type of lawyer to fight a traffic ticket as you would if you were accused of murder. Different types of lawyers are skilled and trained in different areas of the law.

Most people need an attorney because the laws are very complex.  Hiring an expert is always the best option, to have the most advantageous outcome for your case.

Lawyer fees vary to the extreme.  Some cases are quick and fairly simple, from a legal standpoint, such as drafting a will for you, going to court for a traffic ticket.  These will cost much less, and most times with a ‘set’ fee, meaning you pay a flat rate.  However, for more complex cases, such as a messy divorce, a serious crime and the like, your lawyer will spend many hours in court and doing paperwork and filing motions and being on the phone.  All this is a cost to you.   When you meet with an attorney for the first time (a consultation) they will tell you their rates.  A large number of lawyers request what is called a retainer, which the minimum amount they think your case will cost.  This is not the total fee. Other things come up, trials and the court system can take longer, more legwork can be needed to be done by the attorney that was originally estimated.

It is sometimes possible to negotiate a lower fee with the lawyer you choose.   The easiest way to try to negotiate is to ask the lawyer to bill you in a different increment then they usually do. Some lawyers bill in  10 or 15-minute increments. If they make a 2 minute phone call on your behalf, you will be charged for the total 10 or 15-minute increment. This is costly, most especially if your lawyer is costing $100’s of dollars an hour.  Getting them to reduce the increments can be a huge savings in your favor.

Some lawyers work on what is called a contingency basis, such as in personal injury lawsuits, workman’s compensation claims and the like.  They work for free, upfront, and take a percentage of what the total recovered in your favor is.  Be aware, however that there will still be some cost to you; there are filing fees and the like that you will have to pay at some point.  If your case is potentially worth a huge sum of money, you can sometimes negotiate a lower percentage your lawyer will receive the successful conclusion of the case.

Ask friends and business associates about good attorneys in your area and be sure to consult with several before choosing one. Finding a lawyer can be overwhelming, but due diligence should provide you with a good attorney that you can afford.

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