As important as an attorney’s retainer, if not more so, is how an attorney manages their time and how you are billed for their time. When clients come into our office, they always have questions regarding the cost. So we’ve dedicated this article to discussing fees, how attorneys bill their time and predictions about the cost of a case.
What Will it Cost?
It’s pretty typical that we receive questions about an estimated cost of a given case. Unfortunately, there’s no real way to accurately assess what the overall cost of any given case may be. The problem here is that there are far too many variables at play, and providing an estimate largely consists of guesswork coupled with probable inaccuracy. Instead, the largest factors that will influence the cost of your case are going to be related to complexity and conflict.
Try our new Attorney Fees Calculator to see a reasonable cost expectation.
More on Complexity
Family law cases vary greatly in their complexity. Some cases may require ordinary focus, attention, and procedure. Other cases may present novel issues of law, complex questions of fact, may require the involvement of experts or may necessitate appellate procedures. Throw any one of these additional factors into the mix, and it’s going to drive up the cost of the case. Regrettably, though, these factors aren’t always clear from the beginning, and it’s difficult for any attorney to reasonably predict how such factors will impact the cost (or duration) of a case.
What About Conflict?
The other driving force behind how costly a case may become is how much conflict there is between the parties involved. For those cases with relatively harmonious discussions, the parties may save substantially when it comes to legal costs. However, for those cases wrought with conflict, these individuals are likely to see significant fees. Again here, it’s nearly impossible for a potential attorney to reasonably assess the extent of the conflict in your case prior to getting involved. As a result, it’s similarly impossible to predict the extent to which the disharmony in your case will affect the overall cost of your case.
What’s the Bottom Line?
While an attorney may not be able to predict the total cost of your case, they are able to articulate their hourly rate and the time increments at which they bill their time. Hourly rates vary greatly between attorneys, firms, and locales. A more experienced attorney or an attorney who dedicates their practice to a specific area of law will likely have a higher hourly rate. On the other hand, a lower hourly rate may reflect a lesser degree of experience or possibly less familiarity with a given area of law.
What’s more, is that not all attorneys use the same time increment for their bills. For example, many attorneys will use a 6-minute increment, such that their time is broken up into tenths of an hour. While this may be a more commonplace practice, other attorneys may use other increments of time for their billing, such as billing in 10 or 15-minute increments. While it may not seem like a crucial difference, the disparity can really add up and lead to greater costs throughout the duration of a case.
Or, again try our new Attorney Fees Calculator to see a reasonable cost expectation.