August 1, 2019

Understanding Legal Fees

Cost and fee structure can be the deciding factor in working with an attorney. In order to make an informed decision, it is important to be mindful that different attorneys have varying fee structures, and that not all fee structures can apply to every case. The three most commonly used types fee arrangements used by lawyers: Contingency Fees, Flat Fees and Hourly Rates.

Contingency Fees

  • A payment arrangement that is only paid upon winning the case.
  • No upfront fee required; instead the attorney is given a percentage of the damages awarded (usually 1/3 of the award)
  • Not all cases may be taken on contingency (for example: divorce or criminal matters)
  • Typical cases that are associated with contingency fees are those where there are monetary damages to be awarded such as Personal Injury.
  • In certain instances, there may also be a limit on the amount that a lawyer may receive when working on contingency (for example SSI/SSDI cases have a federally mandated cap on contingency of 25%, not to exceed $6,000)

Flat Fees

  • A pre-determined amount for a specific legal service; may be required to pay additional fees for add-on legal services
  • Typically, done for simple or routine cases such as a will
  • May apply to Limited Assistance Representation (LAR) agreements
  • May be offered on a sliding scale (based on income)

Hourly Rates

  • Charged per hour that the attorney works on your case
  • May be offered on a sliding scale (based on income)
  • Typically facilitated via a Retainer Agreement

Many of the attorneys in the BBA Lawyer Referral Service offer reduced legal services and sliding scale fees however, the exact pay structure must be discussed with the attorney directly. If you are in need of legal representation or would like to speak with an attorney you can call the Boston Bar Association’s Lawyer Referral Service at 617-742-0625, connect with an area lawyer online 24/7 by clicking “Get Started” here, or by submitting an email request online today