When a legal problem or the need for legal advice arises, the first question that the client will ask is “how much does it cost to work with a lawyer?”, and “what form will payment take?”. This article will help you clarify these and other typical questions related to legal fees.
How much does a lawyer charge?
Answering this question is not a simple matter. Each lawyer’s fee depends on the field of law, the type of case and their degree of specialisation. Fees can also vary according to the way they provide the services. There are different ways to establish a fee – at the end of the day, the client is the one who reaches an agreement with the lawyer regarding the method of payment based on the relationship of trust they share. Your lawyer will prepare a custom sheet, also known as “Offer of Services” or “Service proposal.” This is a document that details the offerings, proposals and fees that will be necessary to bring about a positive outcome to your case.
Will they charge me for the first consultation?
Usually, the answer is no – the first consultation is free. However, some lawyers choose to charge per hour/minute in the first consultation to give value to their services. In any case, this will vary according to each lawyer and their rates.
Do legal fees get paid at the point of hire or later?
Depending on the type of service and its duration, your lawyer may ask you for a full or partial provision of fees before you begin the case. This way, the lawyer is assured payment for their initial services and expenses. This is very common when the service in question is legal representation in a court proceeding.
Can I pay at the end of the services? What about contingency fees?
Success, or contingency fees mean that your lawyer will charge according to the result. So, if you achieve a favourable result, you’ll be charged a percentage of that success (between 11% and 33%). This method is very common in the Anglo-Saxon world where it is popularly known as the “No Win No Fee”. In Spain, it is mainly applied in traffic accident cases.
Sometimes, when the lawyer needs funding before examining the case, a mixed-method is used between the two previously mentioned forms of payment. In other words, you pay a provision of funds at the beginning to cope with expenses (prosecutor, judicial fees, expert fees, documentation, etc.) and then a contingency fee when the case is resolved.
The important thing is that the lawyer maintains clear and transparent communication with the client. To achieve this, it will be necessary for the lawyer to state from the beginning what the fees are, and, if applicable, the amounts to be paid for expenses. This will incentivise the necessary confidence between both parties.
Who pays the lawyer’s fees if you win the lawsuit?
If your case goes to court, the judge will be the one to decide who has to pay the procedural costs in their ruling. Two things can happen:
- The judge could approve your case entirely and sentence the other party to pay the costs (solicitor, expert, and lawyer expenses as agreed in the Offer of Services, as well as official fees). In this case, the court will set up a judicial order by which you can charge the other party. Then, from the agreement with your lawyer, you will pay what was established in the Offer of Services.
- The judge may also make a declaration of invalidity, and rule that each party must pay their costs.
What if I am sentenced to pay procedural costs?
In case you are sentenced to pay the procedural costs, your lawyer will inform you how to proceed. If you have agreed on a fixed fee plus minimum expenses regardless of the result, the agreed costs must be paid.
The payment for your lawyer must be carried out regardless of whether they recover the costs or not, as long as the assigned job has been effectively performed.
Your lawyer can provide discounts on their rates depending on the type of case and the viability of its success. Before hiring we recommend that you always sign an Offer of Services. This is a document where the conditions of hire will be laid out in detail to avoid any future confusion.
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