How Much Will a Lawyer Cost?

Will hiring a lawyer cost an arm and a leg? It depends on what you’re hiring them to do and how long it will take. The rate can be anywhere from $50 to $1,000 per hour. Some lawyers may charge a flat fee or contingency rate as well.

The cost of a lawyer will depend on what you’re hiring them to do and how long it will take.

  • Most lawyers charge an hourly rate.
  • An hourly rate ranges from $50 to $1,000 per hour.

A lawyer will usually charge a fixed rate for set tasks such as:

  • Wills
  • Uncontested Divorces
  • Bankruptcy filings

Tip: In some cases, particularly lawsuits, lawyers will work on a contingency fee. This means the lawyer will not charge anything up front but will take a percentage of your settlement if your suit is successful.

Learn more on legal bills

Is the Best Necessarily the Most Expensive?

No—lawyers don’t set their fees solely on how successful they are. It’s best to interview prospective lawyers to see if their skills and experience meet your needs. You can normally find a very competent lawyer for between $200 to $300 per hour.

Does the Cost of a Lawyer Depend on the Type of Law?

Lawyers considered “experts” in a particular field will charge more for their time, but normally they don’t set prices based on the type of law they practice.

Can I Get an Estimate?

Yes—it’s called a fee agreement. A fee agreement outlines in writing the projected costs of the lawyer’s time. It should also cover:

  • Court costs
  • Paralegal help
  • Any outside costs or administrative fees

Tips for a Fee Agreement:

  • Ask for periodic itemized billing—this way you can monitor the actual costs versus the projected costs in the fee agreement.
  • Agree to a ceiling price (maximum amount you want to spend)’
  • Get it in writing—if a lawyer won’t put a fee agreement in writing, find a new lawyer.

Rural Versus Urban

Lawyers working in rural areas and small towns generally charge less than their big city counterparts.

For example:

  • An experienced lawyer could charge around $200 per hour working in a small town.
  • A lawyer with the same credentials and experience working in a metropolitan center may charge as much as $400 to $500 per hour.

Alternative Options

Non-Profit Organizations will help clients cover some, or all, of the costs of a case. Different non-profit organizations may choose to represent clients based on the following:

  • Race
  • Religion
  • Gender
  • Age
  • Income level
  • A specific issue (i.e. freedom of speech, discrimination)

Public Defenders

If you have been charged with a crime but cannot afford a lawyer, you have the right to a court-appointed lawyer, commonly known as a Public Defender. There is no charge for a public defender.