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How Do Lawyers Get Paid, Anyway? Here’s How It Works

How Do Lawyers Get Paid, Anyway? Here’s How It Works

Lawyers: The average hourly rate for real estate, general litigation, and insurance attorneys are $404, $367, and $200, respectively. Why do these attorneys charge by the hour, and how do lawyers get paid?

The billing method depends on the type of services the attorney provides. Some attorneys perform a single task while others provide long-term ongoing services.

This guide will help you understand the different billing methods and what you can expect when hiring a lawyer to represent you.

How Do Lawyers Get Paid?

Lawyers get paid when a client hires them to do work. The client will reach out to the attorney with a legal need. The lawyer and the client will reach an agreement on the services rendered and the associated costs.

Once a contract gets signed, the lawyer’s administrative team will invoice the client. The client is then responsible for paying the bill. Most lawyers require payment by a traceable method, such as through a checking or savings account or by credit card.

Fixed Fee

Certain types of attorneys provide routine services that don’t require ongoing representation. These attorneys will charge a single fixed fee for the documentation and services provided.

  • Real estate closing
  • Will preparation
  • Name changes
  • Evictions
  • Traffic court appearance
  • Criminal defense appearance

Hourly Rate

This is the method most people are familiar with and often refer to as billable hours. With this method, the attorney will charge the client an agreed-upon rate based on the number of hours worked.

How much do corporate lawyers get paid? There’s no one answer to this question because hourly rates can vary greatly.

Another element to know is fractional hours. Many attorneys divide the hour into ten segments, with each segment accounting for six minutes. Your attorney will track the time they work on your case and round up or down to the nearest segment.

Retainer Fee

Some lawyers will accept advance payment. The client will communicate with the lawyer and pay the retainer fee. Then at some point in the future, the client will require legal services.

The lawyer will begin work immediately and draw on the retainer payment for services rendered. With this method, the retainer payment will be exhausted, and the client will need to make additional payments.

Contingency Fee

Attorneys, such as the lawyers who work for, only get paid when they win their case. The attorney will take a portion of the monetary award. Typically it’s between 25 and 33% and limited to personal injury cases.

How Do Pro Bono Lawyers Get Paid?

Typically, pro bono attorneys do not get paid. The term “pro bono” is Latin and translates to mean “for the public good”. For lawyers, it means they volunteer to provide free or very low-cost legal services to the public who would otherwise not have access to legal representation.

Understand Your Attorney’s Fees

So, how do lawyers get paid? They get paid by asking their clients for payment based on an agreed-upon amount and billing method. The billing method your attorney uses will depend on what type of attorney they are and the type of legal work they’re doing.

Check out our other lifestyle articles for more helpful answers to your most burning questions.

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