Updated for 2021
With the rising cost of legal fees and the cost of living in general, you may be wondering if you can strike a deal with your attorney. Most Louisiana attorneys are business owners and want your business. There’s nothing wrong with asking for lower legal fees in this market.
If you’ve ever had the unpleasant experience of being hauled into court, you know how gut-wrenching and scary it can be. Criminal and civil proceedings can both be scary. You risk losing your freedom, property and/or rights. You need a lawyer to represent your interests, but don’t know if you can afford one.
Most people have to hire an attorney at least once in their lives and usually more than once. As you know, legal fees are expensive and the cost is rising every year. There’s good reason: we live in a litigious society and a good lawyer can get you out of a tough jam.
Lawyers normally specialize in a certain area of law, but there are still generalists that can help you with just about any legal situation ranging from successions, divorces, criminal proceedings and anything in between. Usually, the more specialized the type of law, the more you will be required to pay your attorney. Also, be ready to pay up if you require the assistance of an attorney that has found a narrow niche and is the only attorney in the area practicing that particular type of law.
Every legal situation is different and requires a different set of skill from your lawyer. Their legal fees are usually based on how much work goes into assisting you with your legal problem.
You Can Negotiate with Your Lawyer
While the larger law firms may be rigid as to their pricing scale, many mid to small sized law firms will work with you on fees. There’s a good chance that the attorney you intend to hire will lower their prices depending on the facts of your case. You will need to bring all of your paperwork and evidence to your consultation and let them see what they’re up against. You may be able to get them to budge on their pricing if your case is able to be settled or is against an attorney they work with regularly.
Here’s the thing: most attorneys would rather you negotiate with them if you can’t afford their fees rather than not hiring them at all. Again, it all depends on your case, but if you can get close to their original fee, many attorneys won’t mind coming down on the price.
The Hourly Rate
There are many ways lawyers charge for their time, one of them being an hourly rate. This rate is usually posted at the law firm and will be applied to any meetings, phone calls, emails, text messages and court time that your attorney handles for you. It can get quite expensive when the hourly rates usually begin around the $200 mark and can be higher depending on the area of law. Some attorneys will lower their hourly rate for you which can save you a ton of money in the long run.
Hourly legal rates can be charged to every single phone call, text message, email and face-to-face meeting, no matter how brief. Hourly legal fees may make you think twice about asking important questions regarding your case.
Cap Their Legal Fees
Another option for saving money hiring an attorney is to negotiate for them to cap their fees. Once your legal fees reach a certain dollar amount, your attorney stops charging. That number is usually high, but it stops the clock from running and your attorney will still complete your work. Many attorneys do this for their long-time clients.
Many Attorneys Offer Payment Plans
Most legal issues take a great deal of time. Many can take months or even years to fully complete. You may be wondering if any attorneys in Louisiana offer payment plans. Your attorney knows you want your legal situation finished and will sometimes offer payment plans to keep them working. You may have to pay as much as half up front to ensure you secure their time, but that’s easier than coming up with the full amount on a moment’s notice.
Establish a Working Relationship with Your Attorney
If you hire the same attorney over and over, there’s a better chance they will offer you reduced rates and payment plans. They know you will eventually pay them and you will bring them other legal issues. You can establish a working relationship with your attorney over the long term and they may cut you some slack on the fees. There’s something to be said about repeat clients in all businesses, law firm included.
Barter with Your Lawyer
This option is used often in small towns where everyone knows everyone else. You probably won’t see it utilized in big cities, but small, rural towns have used this method of payment forever. You wouldn’t think legal fees could be paid with other items besides cash, but they often are. You can trade work for work or an item for their hours. Many clients have paid with guns, property, crops or anything else of value.
Law Firms are Businesses
Law firms and lawyers are businesses and should be viewed as such. They’re in the business to make money just like any other business. They need clients just as much as you need an attorney, so many of them will negotiate with their prices. It doesn’t hurt to ask during your consultation before you sign the contract for legal work.
Know Your Lawyer’s Billing Schedule Before Hiring
The number one thing to remember when hiring an attorney in Louisiana is to fully understand their billing structure. Know how much you will be spending for their legal services before signing the contract or you could be in for a rude awakening when the bills begin to arrive.
Here’s a quick guide to help you choose the best attorney for your case in Louisiana.
Disclaimer: this article does not intend to give legal advice. Do not depend on an article for important legal decisions. You must speak with an attorney.