Determining reasonable attorney fees is not a simple task. It is very difficult for someone without experience in legal billing to decipher the typical invoice for services from a legal firm. This is not because the legal firm is necessarily trying to cloud the issue but because of the complexity of legal billing standards and guidelines.
It is your responsibility, as the client, to talk to any potential legal firm or attorney about their fees and the costs that you can expect based on your specific case. Your attorney is required to provide you, as a client, with written information about their fees and costs. If requested he or she should also provide you with a written estimate of the total fees and costs you can expect for your case.
Experienced Attorneys Have a Ballpark Figure in Mind
If you are working with an experienced attorney, regardless of the specialization or type of case, he or she will have a good understanding of the amount of work they will need to do to prepare your case. They will provide you with the reasonable attorney fees that they know to be the average with cases that are similar to yours.
This information is provided before you actually hire the legal representative. You can compare different attorneys and even shop around for the most reasonable attorney fees. Just make sure you are comparing similar experience and expertise as this is typically the most important factor in determining rates.
Exceptions and Unforeseen Issues
No matter how experienced your attorney is he or she cannot possibly plan for all exceptions and unforeseen issues that could occur in your case. Lawyers only know what their clients initially tell them and new developments can occur that may greatly increase the amount of time needed to handle your case.
Even in these situations the attorney should let you know what they will do and how you will be notified if the attorney fees quoted on your estimate are no long valid. This gives you the option, at that point, to review your options and determine how to proceed.
Reasonable attorney fees depend on several factors. Understanding in advance what you can expect will be instrumental in choosing legal representation for your case.