Lawyers and Lawsuits

Finding a Lawyer

How is a lawyer paid?

This depends on what type of agreement you sign and often what type of case is involved. Sometimes lawyers are paid on an hourly basis, by a flat fee or by contingency fee. In an hourly fee arrangement, the client pays the lawyer an hourly rate. Lawyers’ prices vary quite dramatically geographically.

For less complex legal matters an attorney and client can work out a flat-fee arrangement. Uncontested divorces, simple wills, and other more routine legal work are ideal for flat-fee agreements.

Contingency fee arrangements are typical of lawyers who represent plaintiffs (remember the plaintiff is the person or company who sues) in personal injury tort and employment discrimination cases. In a contingency fee arrangement, a lawyer is paid only if (contingent on) the plaintiff prevails in the lawsuit. In other words, if your lawyer takes your case on a 30 percent contingency fee arrangement, you will not pay your lawyer directly. Rather, the lawyer receives 30 percent of your recovery or award in the case. Contingency fee cases are common in personal injury and employment discrimination suits. Contingency fees are disfavored in other types of cases.

Paying your lawyer can be done in a number of ways, including on an hourly basis, a flat rate, or through a contingency fee arrangement (iStock).

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