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A very brief summary follows:
(1) Understand What a “Retainer”
A low retainer is not necessarily indicative of low legal fees. A retainer is usually just a deposit towards legal fees.
(2) Ask for a Flat Fee, a Fee Cap, a Contingent Fee, or a Mix of These.
These three billing methods can help prevent a surprisingly high bill for legal fees. They help make legal fees predictable.
(3) If You Pay Hourly, Find out the Billing Increment
It can be more expensive to hire an attorney that charges $250 per hour and bills in quarter-hour increments (fifteen minutes), than to hire a $350 per hour attorney who bills in tenth of an hour increments (six minutes). Billing increments make a big difference.
(4) If You Pay Hourly, Ask if the Attorney bills for Phone Calls or Emails with You
If billing for phone calls was never discussed, you have a right to be upset when you are billed for an entire hour when you made four one-minute calls to your attorney on separate days.
(5) Be Wary if the Attorney Is Unwilling to Give you a Ballpark Estimate
A lawyer who is unwilling to discuss likely fees may end up charging a fee that will be much higher than you would expect, especially if the lawyer is charging on an hourly basis.
(6) Shop Around, Compare Prices
Hiring an attorney can cost as much or more than buying a new car. Wise buyers always shop around and compare the various options prior to committing to any particular option.
Feel free to use the legal fee list on our website as a tool to compare other attorneys’ fees with when you are shopping around. http://www.lawyerinfortworthtexas.com/
(7) Don’t Sign the Contract During the First Visit
Invest a little time into finding the right attorney. Even if this means simply sleeping on the contract that the first attorney presents you, at least you will have a good opportunity to read through and make sure you understand exactly what it is you are signing and who you are hiring.
(8) Be Wary of Paying an Initial Consultation Fee
You should not need to pay an attorney in order to determine whether to hire one.
(9) Be Wary of Taking Any Advice Given in an Initial Consultation
When you go in for an initial consultation do not expect to get any good advice. It is true that an attorney may know the general principles and the general law as it applies to your situation, but general understandings of the facts will not likely be sufficient to justify a substantial amount of reliance on the attorney’s words in an initial consultation.
You would not ask a surgeon how to remove your own appendix. If one told you how to do it, you would not try it. Likewise, you should not rely on advice given to you in an initial consultation.
(10) Avoid “Big Law” Unless You Are Very Wealthy and Do not Want Personalized Service.
The benefits of hiring a big law firm come at a great price: attorneys at big law firms are overworked and, if they are handling too many cases at once, they may not have enough time to properly research your case. This means that you may not be on equal footing at a trial if the opposing party researched properly. When business is slow and big law firm lawyers have the time, the lawyers at big law firms have one goal: to bill hours. If you go with big law, expect to get billed a full billing increment for the tiniest of things: for listening to a voicemail, for a one-minute phone call, for writing a letter to you to give you an update, for making copies for you, and the list goes on.
Finally, because lawyers at big law firms are overworked, they will not have as much ability to give personal service on your case. You may end up dealing with a secretary at the firm more often than dealing with your attorney.
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