Generally, there are three different ways that attorneys charge fees: first, on a contingency basis; second, on an hourly basis; and, third, on a fixed fee basis. When you hire an attorney, that attorney is providing you his or her expertise and advice, and you should expect to be charged for the time that an attorney expends on your behalf because this is how he or she gives you the benefit of their counsel and experience.
Contingency fees are generally limited to personal injury types of cases or other matters of entitlement such as social security, worker's compensation, and civil rights matters. In these types of cases, there is some expectation that you will receive some financial award either by settlement or by judgment from a court or jury. However, in most cases, your financial award does not include your attorney's fees. You are responsible for paying your attorney's fees out of any financial recovery that you obtain.
In contingency fee cases, the attorney assesses whether or not he or she believes that you have reasonable chance of succeeding. If the attorney feels that you do have a reasonable chance, the attorney may take your case by investing his or her time without a fixed payment from you up front. Basically the attorney is counting on being paid from a percentage of any award which you receive from a settlement or from a court. In some cases such as social security and worker's compensation, there is usually a cap or limit on the percentage or the dollar amount that an attorney is permitted to charge. You should ask the attorney if there is such a limit and what it is. In most personal injury cases, there is not a limit on what the attorney can charge. However, generally, a one-third contingency fee is the customarily accepted percentage that a lawyer will be paid from your award. If your case is lost, the lawyer is paid nothing for his or her time. However, any expenses such as depositions, filing fees, court reporter fees, and witness fees remain your responsibility to pay. Although the attorney may advance some of those costs to you if you cannot afford them, you remain responsible to reimburse your attorney for those costs whether you win or lose.
Attorneys usually charge a fixed fee for standard routine matters such as wills, deeds, the search of a real estate title, representing you in a simple bankruptcy, drafting a basic contract, traffic offenses, or minor criminal matters. These are some but not all of the examples of tasks for which an attorney may charge you a fixed fee.
Attorneys charge an hourly rate for almost everything else other than personal injury cases and standard routine matters. The amount your attorney charges per hour will be determined by a number of factors. The most important factor is his or her experience in the type of matter for which you are being represented. Another factor will be the generally accepted charges for similar matters in your legal community. In most hourly cases, your attorney will request that you pay a retainer fee up front against which the attorney will bill his or her time. When your attorney is charging you an hourly rate, you should always ask your attorney to periodically provide you with an itemized statement of the time which he or she has expended on your behalf.
Whenever you believe that you need an attorney, you should discuss attorney's fees during your first conference with the attorney. You must clearly understand the way in which the attorney intends to bill you for handling your legal matter. You should expect to sign an agreement with your attorney regarding fees so that both you and your attorney have a clear understanding of what to expect. In some cases, a contract of representation between you and your attorney is not required.
You should never be afraid to discuss attorney's fees or to negotiate attorney's fees with your attorney at the beginning of your representation. Having a clear understanding between you and your attorney on the issue of fees will assure a good working relationship between you and your attorney.
If you are taken to court for any reason, you have a right to be represented by an attorney. This is true, whether you are a juvenile or an adult. But what if you cannot afford an attorney? If you are charged with a crime which may result in jail time, and if you cannot afford an attorney, the court will usually appoint a lawyer at no charge. The law does not want anyone sent to jail without full legal protection.
Criminal law and criminal defense are so complex and technical that you need a trained legal expert on your side if you are to get a fair trial. If you are charged with a crime you will be prosecuted by an attorney for the government who has extensive legal training. It is only reasonable that you should be defended by someone who has similar training and abilities.
In order to qualify for an attorney at no cost, you must be able to show that you are unable to employ an attorney because of lack of finances. Some Courts may require that documents be filled out in order to prove your inability to pay. If you are unable to afford an attorney, the Court must supply you with a free attorney. This is your right under the law.
In criminal cases, if you qualify for a free attorney, the judge will assign a lawyer to represent you. In such cases the attorney is paid for by public funds. The attorneys appointed by the court are trained attorneys. They are as prepared to represent a private citizen accused of a crime as the District Attorney General is prepared to prosecute that crime.
If the Court appoints an attorney to represent you but you are able to pay a part of the cost, the Court may require you to make payments into the Court. This will of course depend on your ability to pay.
We all have many legal rights. It is essential that we know our rights. One of the most important of these rights is the right to a fair trial. Because of the complexity of the legal system a fair trial is almost impossible without proper legal representation. Your right to a fair trial, therefore, includes the right to be represented by an attorney whether or not you can pay. So remember, if you are charged with a crime that could send you to jail and you cannot afford an attorney, you have a right to an attorney at no charge and the court will supply you with one who is well qualified to give you a competent defense. If you can afford an attorney, on the other hand, you may employ a private attorney of your choice at your expense.
Whether you can afford to employ an attorney of your choice, or you have an attorney appointed for you by the court at no obligation to you other than to the extent that you are able to pay, it is important that you have an attorney to assist and represent you at all phases of the criminal proceeding.
In a civil suit, the general rule is that you do not have a "right" to an appointed lawyer. Therefore, if you have a case other than a criminal case you need to obtain a lawyer of your choice. There are cases that a private attorney will handle without charging you a fee for his services. These are cases in which the attorney believes that fees can be obtained from the other party to the lawsuit. This arrangement is known as a "contingent fee" and does not depend on your ability to pay. In addition some attorneys will arrange for fees to be paid over an extended period of time.
If you have a civil case that a private attorney will not accept on a contingent-fee basis, you may choose to contact the Legal Aid Society in your county. These organizations are independent not-for-profit law offices that provide free civil legal assistance to persons whose total/gross household income and assets are below federal income guidelines.
There are certain types of cases that Legal Aid is prohibited by federal regulations from accepting. Additionally, due to limited resources, Legal Aid cannot accept all cases for representation and has to establish case acceptance priorities. To the extent resources permit, Legal Aid organizations provide legal assistance in the areas of family law, especially domestic violence; public entitlements, such as TENNCARE, food stamps, Social Security, etc.; housing law, including both public and private housing; consumer law, and community economic development. Legal Aid also offers special programming in elder law issues, health insurance counseling, and fair housing.
The Tri-Cities Legal Aid Society maintains office hours from 8:30 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. Monday through Friday (the office closes for lunch from 12:00 until 1:00). There are a limited number of opportunities for Saturday interviews. To request assistance with a new legal problem, Legal Aid recommends that you call their office at 9:00 a.m. Monday through Friday. Tri-Cities Legal Aid Society's phone number is 928-8311.
The material located on our web site is intended to be a resource for present and prospective clients. Its is for informational purposes only. The material on this web site is not intended to be legal advice. The act of sending electronic mail to our firm or a specific attorney is not privileged and does not alone create an attorney-client relationship.
This web site is not an offer to represent you. You should not act, or refrain from acting, based upon any information at this web site. If you desire legal advice or legal representation, please call out office to schedule an appointment. Upon the completion of a consultation, our firm will determine whether we can represent you or offer legal advice to you.
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This article will inform you how to switch from one attorney to another during the handling of your legal matter. However, before you switch attorneys, you must first terminate or end the attorney/client relationship with your first lawyer. Thus, you must first tell your attorney that you no longer want him or her to continue representing you. The best way to do this is by written letter followed by a telephone call confirming your intentions. That way, both you and your attorney will know that you intend to end your attorney/client relationship.
The attorney that you are firing may expect to be paid for his or her legal services until the time of termination. He or she may also expect to be reimbursed for any legal costs which have been advanced on your behalf. Usually, your first attorney will keep your file until you pay for the services already provided as well as any costs which have been advanced to you. However, that attorney is not permitted to keep your personal documents such as deeds, titles, or stock certificates. The attorney can and will keep his or her work product, that is what he or she has done so far on your case until paid. Once your first attorney has been paid, he or she must return your file to you or send it to your new lawyer.
If your first lawyer was hired on a contingency basis, there are some extra things to keep in mind. A contingency case is one on which the attorney has invested time with the expectation of being paid for that time with a percentage of the amount which you may be awarded. In a contingency fee case, your first attorney is entitled to payment for the services that he or she provided to you even though the agreement was that the attorney would be paid later. Thus, you may have to negotiate with your first attorney to decide how that attorney will be paid in the event that you obtain a recovery either by settlement or by judgment. Sometimes, your new attorney may be able to assist you in negotiating with your first attorney on these matters.
It is important for you to realize that most attorneys will not agree to represent you until you have ended your attorney/client relationship with your first attorney and have your file available for review by your new attorney. Only by reviewing your file can your new attorney evaluate the work which has been done on your behalf and determine how much more work remains to be done. In most cases, your new attorney will be able to evaluate the quality of the work which has already been performed on your behalf. Your new attorney will also probably want to know what problems existed between you and your first attorney so that the same problems do not occur again in your new attorney/client relationship.
Cobble Law Firm
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Email Address info[at]cobblelawfirm.com
Cobble Law Firm
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Email Address info[at]cobblelawfirm.com