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How Much Does it Cost to Hire a Lawyer?


How Much Does it Cost to Hire a Lawyer Hourly?

A bunch of lawyers work hourly. The amount of the hourly fee usually depends on how specialized or complicated the case and how many other lawyers do that kind of work. I have seen hourly fees as low as $50 per hour and as high as $1200.

The lawyer should be very clear about when the “clock starts.” If the lawyer doesn’t volunteer it, ask for a written contract that lays out exactly what you will be charged for and when.

How Much Does it Cost to Hire a Lawyer on a Contingent Fee?

A contingency fee lawyer (like me) usually takes a percentage of the amount of money the client wins. I charge 33.3% for simple cases, 40% for complex cases, and 50% for appeals.

My contingency fee clients never write me a check. Instead, when the defendant (the person or people we sue) writes a check, I put the money in a trust account. Then, I send a check to the client, a check to the law firm (for the fee earned plus costs) and a check to whenever else is entitled to some of the money recovered.

I think it puts people at ease to know that they are not going to end up with less money because they hired me.

I also want to note that I put a “bad boy” clause in my contracts. I have heard of some people trying to “outsmart” their lawyers by, for example, firing the lawyer after closing arguments in the trial. Then the “bad boy” argues that they don’t owe the lawyer anything because the lawyer wasn’t working for them when the jury rendered its verdict. That game playing goes no where. Lawyers can get the fair price of their services even if the contract doesn’t say that. But, just to play it safe, all of my contracts say that.

When Can You Hire a Lawyer on a Contingent Fee?

You can hire a lawyer on a contingent fee if you are suing someone for money. You cannot hire a contingent fee lawyer in a divorce, custody, or criminal defense case.

Is the Fee Reasonable?

No matter what, the fee always has to be reasonable. Let us say that they lawyer wins you $30,000 by just writing a simple letter. Is the lawyer still entitled to collect 33.3% or 40%? Probably not. The fee always has to be reasonable.

Can You Just Ask the Judge to Appoint a Lawyer?

The judge will only appoint a lawyer in criminal cases. You are not entitled to a lawyer when you are suing someone else or being sued by someone else. If you need a free lawyer, I recommend contacting a charitable or, if appropriate, a political organization. I listed some organizations below, but many, many more are out there.

When Can You Get a “Free” Lawyer?

You can only get a free lawyer in very limited circumstances.

Criminal Cases

Any criminal defendant who could be sentenced to jail time, has a constitutional right to a lawyer. Therefore, the public defender’s office will make sure you get a lawyer at no cost if you don’t hire your own lawyer.

Cases Lawyers Take Through Political/Charitable Organizations

There are a slew of charitable organizations that will help people in legal matters. Every organization creates its own criteria, so you will need to check each organization’s specific requirements. Generally you can get a “free” lawyer through one of these organizations if your specific legal issue furthers the organizations political or moral goals.

Below is a list of some organizations that offer no cost legal services. You will probably also want to do some research on your own to see which one makes the most sense for you to contact and to see if there are other organizations in your area not listed here.

  • American Civil Liberties Union
    • The ACLU website says they offer services related to “Abortion care, trans people’s right to live freely, people’s right to vote – our freedoms are at stake and we need you with us. Donate today and fuel our fight in courts, statehouses, and nationwide.”
  • Cincinnati Volunteer Lawyers for the Poor
    • Cincinnati VLP’s mission, according to their website is: “to recruit and maintain a reservoir of lawyers on a voluntary basis to serve the needs of people who require legal services but whose incomes or means of support are deemed by the VLPF or Legal Aid to be inadequate to pay for such services. When appropriate, the VLP provides means of compensating, wholly or partially, the lawyers who provide said services.”
  • The Urban League
    • The Urban League does a lot for the community. If your civil rights have been violated, the urban league may be able to help you find a lawyer at no cost.

For further reading, see this article about how to be the best plaintiff you can be.

Kim Beck

Attorney Kimberly Beck

Cincinnati, Ohio

Attorney Kim Beck is the managing member of Beck Law Center, located in Cincinnati, Ohio.  She has 15 years of experience as an attorney, mostly on the defense.  She now represents plaintiffs in personal injury cases involving a variety of injuries caused by defecting drugs/ pharmaceuticals, medical malpractice, and other series accidents.  If you would like more information about her background and experience, please review her profile page.

Attorney Advertisement.  Beck Law Center provided this post as general information and should not be construed as creating an attorney/client relationship.  It may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction.  It is not intended as a substitute for legal advice.  Further, this correspondence is not protected by privilege.  No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information included in, or accessible through, this Post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.

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