How, and How Much, Do Lawyers Charge?

Lawyers Charge

How much are you willing to spend?

Legal services aren’t cheap, how much are you willing to spend? What are typical fee arrangements for legal services? How much can you expect to pay? What about expenses and court costs? How can you keep track of fees for legal services? What about free or low-cost legal services? What should you do if you are charged with a crime but can’t afford a lawyer?

When you’re shopping for legal services, always ask potential attorneys to fully explain their fees and billing practices. Don’t hesitate to ask detailed questions and don’t be embarrassed. A lawyer’s willingness to discuss fees is an important indicator of how he or she treats clients.

That are typical fee arrangements? Standard payment arrangements an attorney may suggest include:

Hourly rates, Flat fees, Retainers, Contingent fees

Hourly rates are the most common arrangement. Here, the attorney gets paid an agreed-upon hourly rate for the hours he or she works on a client’s case or matter until it’s resolved.

How much is an hourly rate?

It depends on each attorney’s experience, operating expenses, and the location of his or her practice. Cheaper is not necessarily better when it comes to your legal protection. A more expensive lawyer with a lot of experience may be able to handle a complex problem more quickly. Also, an experienced attorney will be able to better estimate how many lawyer hours a particular matter will take to resolve.

Flat Fees

Where a legal matter is simple and well defined, lawyers typically charge a flat fee. Examples of flat fee matters include wills, uncontested divorces and simple bankruptcy filings. If an attorney suggests or has advertised a flat fee, be sure you understand exactly what that fee will and will not cover. The flat fee might not include expenses such as filing fees.

Retainer Fee

A retainer fee is typically, but not always, an advance payment on the hourly rate for a specific case. The lawyer puts the retainer in a special trust account and deducts from that account the cost of services as they accrue. During the course of legal representation, clients should review periodic billing statements reflecting amounts deducted from the retainer. Most retainers are non-refundable unless labeled “unreasonable” by a court. If you decide to drop a case that your lawyer has worked on before the retainer has been exhausted, you may forfeit the remainder.

Contingent Fees

In certain types of cases, attorneys work on a contingent fee basis. “Contingent” means that the attorney takes no fee from the client, but gets a percentage typically one-third of the settlement or money judgment. Contingent fee arrangements are typical for plaintiff’s counsel in automobile and accident litigation, medical malpractice and other personal injury cases, as well as in debt collection cases.

Courts set limits on the contingency fees a lawyer can receive from personal injury suits. Of course, lawyers and clients are free to negotiate contingency fees less than the standard one-third. Contingent fee arrangements in certain kinds of cases such as divorce, criminal cases, or child custody cases are prohibited.

How much can you expect to pay?

Rates for legal fees vary based on location, experience of the lawyer, and the nature of the matter. Believe it or not, rates may vary anywhere.

Internet Crimes: Definition and Penalties

Internet Crimes

An internet crime, or cybercrime, refers to any illegal practice that involves the use of a computer or network, or targets a computer or network. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, their key priorities in regards to cybercrimes are: computer intrusion, online predators, piracy, and fraud. Computer intrusion costs individuals and companies billions of dollars every year. By breaking into personal computers, laptops, and networks, hackers can disrupt and sometimes permanently damage vital computer systems. The reasons for computer intrusion vary from the theft of personal information to illegal business practices to terrorism.

Child pornography and online predators are another important focus of the FBI. The Innocent Images National Initiative is part of their Cyber Crimes Program and is dedicated to fighting the spread of child pornography online. It is against federal and state laws to make, own, sell, or distribute any pornographic materials that contain minors. Although each state is different, even the possession of one picture can lead to five years in prison. As one of the fastest growing crimes on the internet, it can be used for a number of purposes. Pedophiles view it, but others use it to prepare children for child prostitution, an act known as child grooming. 18 U.S.C. Chapter 110, Sexual Exploitation and Other Abuse of Children, states that violators can be punished by fifteen years in federal prison.

A crime that has garnered a mass amount of media attention is that of piracy: intellectual property theft. Intellectual property includes: music, books, movies, art, inventions, phrases, designs, and more. Materials that are protected by copyright or trademarks are illegal to copy or distribute without permission. Penalties for piracy vary based on the amount copies or distributed. The FBI has been working on educating the public regarding the seriousness of this crime and the fact that it is theft.

Lastly, another widespread internet crime is fraud. Fraud is a broad category of crimes that involve dishonest acts. When misrepresentation occurs on the internet, it becomes a cybercrime. The most common reason for fraud is monetary gain and can be civil or criminal in nature, depending on the law of the state. The main types of fraud are: identity theft, credit card fraud, bankruptcy fraud, and securities fraud.

If you have been accused of any type of internet crime, it is highly encouraged that you speak with a legal professional as soon as possible. As these crimes can be investigated by government agencies, you need a strong legal representative to be on your side. Time is crucial, so do not wait to get the help you need.

However, it must be further noted that when spousal support proceedings are in progress all assets including estate and even your liquid assets can become a major risk; therefore, a spousal support lawyer should be by your side to help you protect your investments. It is further important to carry out proper research before you hire an Albany Attorney to represent your case; usually an inexperience lawyer can only worsen things up for you for both parties who are either seeking spousal support or giving one. Hence, always exercise caution in such matters and do not make the split more distressing than it already is.