Self-representation may be an attractive option for a party to a lawsuit because of the avoidance of the expense of attorney fees. Sometimes, a case is simple enough that it is relatively easy to self-represent effectively. In fact, the typical small claims case is almost always prosecuted pro se because the cost of hiring an attorney is not cost effective. The small claims system in most states is actually set up for such an arrangement because most such cases would never be brought if an attorney had to be hired to represent the client in court.
For more complex cases, one may have no other choice but to hire an attorney. Although attorney fees can, indeed, be high, the time saved by not having to represent oneself and the valuable expertise and familiarity with the court system that an attorney can provide are usually worthwhile.Costs
Attorney fees vary greatly, depending upon the location and the subject matter and complexity of a given case. Note that there is at least some correlation between an attorneyâ€™s reputation and his/her ratesâ€”a good attorney with a strong record of success will be in higher demand and thus can afford to charge clients more.
Costs are established during an initial meeting with an attorney. Most attorneys have standard fees that they charge per hour of work, which includes all communications and meetings with a client, work on the clientâ€™s behalf, and presence at a trial. Some attorneys will be willing to negotiate a reduced fee if a case is of particular interest to them and the client is unable to pay the regular rate.
In some cases, attorneys work on â€œcontingency.â€ This means that they charge a client based on some percentage of that clientâ€™s recovery in a lawsuit. This is common especially in personal injury lawsuits; an attorney may be paid some percentage of the damages recovered by the plaintiff he/she represents, which means that if the plaintiff is not successful and recovers nothing, the attorney also is not paid. Contingency fees vary, but are commonly 20-40% of recovery.
Many attorneys also will charge a â€œretainer.â€ This is an up-front payment that represents what the attorney believes it will cost to represent a client in a case, but is an estimate only. If the actual costs are less than the retainer, the balance will be returned to the client; if the costs are higher, the client may be required to pay the balance owed.
A few options are available to persons who need legal services but who cannot afford an attorney, including legal service clinics, law school clinics, and pro bono representation.Locating an Attorney
Numerous resources exist for finding an attorney. The yellow pages for every city or county list area attorneys; this information is also available online. More reliable sources include the state bar, which in most states includes a referral service, and personal references from friends, family, colleagues, or professional resources (doctor, CPA, another attorney, etc.).
Not all attorneys practice all kinds of law regularly, so it is important to find an attorney who is familiar with the type of legal issue one is involved in. Attorney specializations may include bankruptcy, commercial law, criminal law, labor and employment matters, family law, real estate, or personal injury.
Hiring an AttorneyÂ
The first meeting with an attorney is an â€œinitial consultation.â€ Some attorneys offer this first consultation for free, but remember that if an attorney explains that he/she charges for that time, the potential client is obligated to pay, even if he/she chooses not to hire that attorney.
A party should talk with the attorney to establish what is to be expected during the collaboration and also to get a feeling for how comfortable he/she is with the attorney. The most competent attorney will not be the right fit for a client who does not feel comfortable with him/her.
In order to effectively represent a client, an attorney must have all information; because complete and honest disclosure is a must, a client who has any doubts at all about his ability to trust the attorney with personal matters should move on to a different attorney.
It is also imperative to gather information about the attorney to determine if he/she can effectively represent oneâ€™s specific needs. Important points of discussion include the expected length of time for resolution of the issue; how many similar cases the attorney has handled and with what rate of success; whether any other professionals will be involved in the work; and how frequently and by what means the client and attorney will communicate.
After a client has established that an attorney is the right one for him/her to retain, the client and attorney will enter into an agreement that describes clearly what the scope of representation will be, at what rate the attorney will be paid, and any other terms important to the attorneyâ€™s representation of the client.----------------------------------------------------------------------------------Â If you are a business owner get listed at Best Legal Site, part of LocalwinÂ Network.