I have written a lot on this site about how to go about finding the perfect lawyer for you, no matter what the case is or the area of law. If you’re looking for how to find a personal injury lawyer to best represent you, you can find my post here about that. I have also written about divorce attorneys and other areas elsewhere on this site.
While these help you find the good qualities to look for in a practiced lawyer, they don’t answer the question on how much you should pay for their services. I’ll go into more detail on that in this post today.
What’s a Good Rate for a Lawyer?
The answer to that question, unfortunately, is not very simple. There are so many factors that come into play and there is no “one size fits all” answer to that query. To put it simply, a good rate is whatever you are able and willing to pay. If you have a tight budget, you’re going to want to look for an affordable lawyer that still has the qualifications you need, but meets your spending limit.
Outside of your budget, another factor that comes into play is what kind of case is being tried. The more extreme cases, with more serious consequences and penalties, would and should require a higher rate for a quality lawyer. For example, if you’re fighting a speeding ticket, you won’t need to spend as much to be defended than if you were up against murder charges. Think of OJ Simpson and his “Dream Team” of lawyers like Johnny Cochran and Robert Shapiro. He was facing a serious prison sentence for a serious crime, and given the verdict in the case, it was money well spent for him.
Another area where you would likely not want to be skimping on a low-rate lawyer is when you are in a divorce case or a child custody case. In these areas of law, there are huge stakes. You’re fighting for your assets, your time with your children, things like that. You can’t put a price tag on those types of matters.
I wish I had a more definite answer to the general question of how much should you pay, but the answer differs so much. A lawyer’s rates are determined by what the market will bear. They don’t set their fees at a certain level unless clients have proven willing to pay it.
This can be affected by the city you live in – for instance, a lawyer in New York City will run you a higher bill than someone in podunk Iowa. It is also affected by the lawyer’s experience, as well as their track record of success. If they are a lawyer that is in demand because they win cases, they can raise their rates to a level that is worthy of the kind of representation and power in the courtroom that they bring.
In the end, interview with a variety of lawyers to see what their rates are, and balance that out with what you are able and willing to pay, along with how well you think you will be represented.