HOW LAWYERS CHARGE

    Many people who need legal help are reluctant to see a lawyer because they are afraid that legal services are expensive. Actually, in many cases fees are moderate in comparison with the benefits gained or the losses avoided. It often turns out to be more expensive tin the long run not to see a lawyer. When you consult the lawyer in person, ask at the outset about fees. It is in the best interest of both the lawyer and the client to have a clear understanding of the fee for the lawyer's services in advance so there will be no misunderstanding later.

TIME
A lawyer's only stock-in-trade is time and advice.

There are three basic types of fees for legal services:

  1. Hourly Fee: In some cases, particularly civil litigation and contested domestic matters, the lawyer will charge an hourly fee. The lawyer will keep accurate time sheets describing the time spent on your case.
  2. Contingency Fee: In certain other cases, lawyers charge a contingency fee, where an agreement is made with the client in advance that the lawyer will get, as a fee, a percentage of the amount recovered after certain expenses are deducted. In this case, the lawyer is paid only if the client wins the case. In most cases, the client will be responsible for the costs regardless of the court decision. This is most commonly see in personal injury cases.
  3. Flat Fee: The flat fee is where the lawyer has a set fee for the service to be provided, regardless of the time involved. Flat fees are commonly used in defense of criminal charges, some civil cases, and routine matters such as uncontested domestic matters, preparation of simple wills, deeds, and other similar documents.

No two situations are alike. A lawyer will consider many of the following factors in arriving at a fair fee:

Other issues may be considered in setting fees: novelty and difficulty of the problem, amount of responsibility assumed by the attorney, custom in the geographical area, and preclusion of other employment during a particular case.

Are there any restrictions on a contingency fee?
    Yes
. A lawyer may not charge a contingency fee in a criminal case where the fee depends upon the outcome. Likewise, a lawyer may not charge a contingency fee in a contested domestic relations matter. Public policy dictates that a lawyer's fee not be dependent upon securing a divorce, the amount of alimony or child support ultimately awarded.

Must the lawyer/client fee agreement be in writing?
    In Nevada, a contingent fee agreement must be in writing and must state the method by which the fee is to be determined, including the percentage of the recovery and whether expenses are to be deducted before or after the contingent fee in calculated. Ask your lawyer to explain what expenses will be charged and when the client's costs are to be paid. Obtaining a written fee agreement in advance is in the best interest of the client, so that there will be a written record in the event that there is a dispute later about the lawyer/client relationship.

What is a retainer?
    A retainer is the initial fee paid by the client to begin representation on a particular matter. The lawyer and client should have a firm understanding of exactly what is contemplated and covered by that initial retainer. Your lawyer is required to place these retainers in a special account called a trust account, against which your legal matter will be billed until completed. If the retainer is insufficient, the attorney may ask for additional funds to be used in the same manner. Likewise, unused funds at the end of the legal matter remain the property of the client and should be reimbursed to the client after all expenses are paid.

What are "costs"?
    A lawyer must spend money to file papers with the Court, to hire other persons such as court reporters or investigators, etc. These expenses are known as costs and are normally paid by the client in addition to the lawyer's fees. Costs are in addition to the attorney's bill for his or her time and effort.


Jeffrey S. Posin & Associates
8935 South Pecos Road, Suite 21A
Henderson, Nevada 89074
tel: (702) 396-8888 fax: (702) 837-1650
e-mail: askus@lawfromhome.com