There is no one size fits all payment method when it comes to attorney fees. There are several factors that determine how you can pay for legal representation. When meeting with an attorney and discussing fees, consider the area of law, scope of work, and the length and depth of your legal matter. According to The Florida Bar, to prevent surprises, a client should always discuss the prospective charges at the first meeting with the attorney. Regardless of the fee agreement you and your attorney agree upon, a quality attorney will consider what’s in your best interests as a client.
Here are the four most common types of attorney fees:
With a pure contingency fee agreement, the attorney does not get paid unless you receive a settlement or a verdict in your favor. The attorney pays in advance for your medical records, expert testimony and other costs associated with your case which they are later reimbursed for from your recovery. Contingency fee agreements are typical for personal injury cases like car accidents, pedestrian accidents, and wrongful death lawsuits. In Florida, contingency fee cases must be agreed upon in writing and accompanied by the Statement of Clients’ Rights.
You are charged for each hour an attorney works on your case. This is the traditional model of hiring an attorney for their services. The hourly rate you are charged will vary depending on an attorney’s education, knowledge, licensing, and experience. Hourly fee agreements are common in areas of commercial and civil litigation. If you are a business owner with a breach of contract matter or a fraud issue, it is likely that you will be charged by the hour.
In criminal cases, attorney’s fees are typically paid on a flat fee agreement; meaning that attorneys are paid a flat fee up front in a lump sum. Flat fee agreements are also common when the scope of legal representation is limited. For example, you need a letter drafted or a contract reviewed that is very narrow both in scope and the time required to perform the service.
Hybrid fee agreements are a combination of the different categories of attorney fee agreement, the most common of which are mentioned above. Often the contingency fee category is paired with the hourly rate category. Hybrid fees may occur in situations where the law permits attorneys fees to be awarded by the court. Hybrid fees are also common in cases where a consumer has a Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act (FDUTPA) matter.
With all of these fee agreements, the costs and attorney fees will go up when a case is more complex and heavily fought. It is imperative that you discuss legal fees when you first speak with an attorney. Upon hiring an attorney, a fee agreement should be in place. A great fee arrangement occurs when you have a clear understanding of what you are agreeing to and how the legal process works.
If you have any questions, or if you would like to discuss your case, be sure to speak with an attorney today.