In life perhaps the most difficult task is that of dealing with the payment or fees due to a lawyer. Today for many aspects of existence a lawyer becomes essential and sadly a large number of disagreements between lawyers and clients arise over fees.
It is important that you discuss with your lawyer at the very beginning that you would appreciate receiving a detailed bill that includes: date of service; time spent; amount charged; expenses incurred; advances received; the total amount due on the case; and the period of time covered by the bill. If you and the lawyer reach an understanding that is clear right from day 1 then your relationship will proceed well and not sour.
Fees to be paid to a lawyer can include: contingency fee; a flat fee; statutory fee; and the hourly fee. While you could try and negotiate a flat fee for a service, most lawyers prefer to charge by the hour and the rate could be as much as USD 125- USD 200 an hour. Therefore if you speak with the lawyer on the phone on everything other than matters on hand you will be paying dearly for every minute. To get the best out of the situation you need to:
1. Find out what the "going" rates are not just in the firm but in the market. Check with associations as well as on the internet. If you get facts down accurately you will be able to discuss billing with the lawyer intelligently.
2. In case you need a lawyer to handle more than one legal case or work then talk about a blended rate which will be neither too high or low, a midpoint between the firms highest and lowest rate.
3. Find out if fees will be reduced if you undertake to do some of the work on the case yourself. Most law offices are busy and gladly offer lower rates if a client will do some of the running around and research or locating witnesses themselves.
4. Ask if the lawyer and his firm have in place any discount policy. Many firms offer discounts on billing between 10-15% for immediate settlement of bills, advance payments or for sustained assignments. Unless you ask such information will not be disclosed.
5. Many lawyers will bill less if you prepare drafts of documents and a file with all relevant papers yourself. This saves the lawyer and his staff a lot of time. So ask about the possibility of lower billing if you undertake to do a lot of the work yourself.
6. For representation at court request to be billed at a flat rate and not on an hourly basis. This way you will not be paying hourly for the number of hours a lawyer is forced to "hang around" court because of umpteen reasons.
7. Since lawyers generally bill for time taken to travel on your work negotiate a discounted billing rate for travel time, many lawyers agree to bill at 50% or less.
8. Determine how much you can afford in terms of legal fees. Cases can drag on and you may go bankrupt trying to fight a case which does not deserve so much attention. Be frank with the lawyer and ask him to advise you on whether the case is worth fighting and what the chances are of winning. Indicate how much you can really afford.
9. For some cases, lawyers agree to work for a percentage of what the "court awards as damages." If your case is strong then a lawyer would be more than willing to work for contingency fees.
10. Find out if the lawyer would agree to a lower hourly rate if you give a higher retainer fee. This way you will save money as billing on an hourly basis can run into high amounts especially if you are nor organized and waste a considerable amount of the lawyer's time.
Be clear from day one as far as fees are concerned. Ask about charges, negotiate well and put down what you agree upon in writing. Both you and the lawyer must sign the contract.
Aaron Brooks is a freelance writer for http://www.1866attorney.com , the premier website to find Attorney Directory including topics on civil right, litigation, defence, attorney power, legal services, prosecuting all crimes and much more. He also freelances for submit free Legal press release site http://www.1888pressrelease.com/Legal-0-23.html
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