The truth about attorney fees - this is never an easy subject to discuss. Most people feel that attorneys are too expensive, or trying to rip them off. We get calls daily from people who want a "free consultation" because, well, you know, consultations are always free.
We happen to charge for our consultations. They are a minimal amount, $100 for an hour, for two attorneys to sit and listen to your story and give you legal advice about your particular situation. That is $465 sitting in a room, giving you advice. Your situation is never easy. Family law and probate cases are extremely complicated, everyone's facts are different, and the law is never straight forward regarding these cases.
Now, if you are in an accident, or have a medical malpractice claim, those large firm TV attorneys will sit and listen to you for free. Do you know why? Because they will get 1/3 of whatever you collect. Let's assume for argument's sake you are in an accident and you get the full amount of the auto insurance amount of $100,000. The attorney who sat in the room with you listening to your story (or their firm) will get $33,333.33 in fees, plus whatever costs they incurred out of your award.
In order for me to earn that same amount I would have had to expend a little over 125 hours. Do you honestly think they put 125 hours into your case? I sincerely doubt it.
So, let's look at a real divorce case I recently completed. No children, four year marriage. Wife earned less than $30,000 husband earned over $400,000. He offered her a settlement of $60,000. She came to us and paid the $100 consultation fee to ask if we thought that was reasonable. We told her we wouldn't know, until we did some discovery to find out what had accumulated during the marriage. She did not know what he earned, but he was a doctor. During the marriage there was a house and a medical building purchased. She decided it was worth finding out so she hired us. We ended up getting her $165,000. We billed our fees by the hour. She paid us $2900 for about 11 hours of work. We cannot take cases on contingency. It is a rule in family law. But if I could, and billed 33% for just the difference in the amount I got for her, I would have made $33,333.33 on that case.
Did she think it was worth paying us $2900? You bet! Was she happy she paid that consultation fee? You bet! We have to charge for our consultation fees. If we didn't we would be sitting on Zoom or on the telephone all day giving free legal advice and not earning any money to pay the bills. We also would not be able to work on the cases for the clients that have paid for representation. Unfortunately we have bills to pay, just like everyone else, mortgage payments, utilities, insurance, advertising, telephone, internet, salaries, and payroll taxes. We cannot afford to work for free and we shouldn't have to. No one else goes to work every day and doesn't get paid for the work they do.
When you see those big firm TV lawyers tell you that they won millions of dollars for their clients and it all went to the clients, they are being less than truthful. They are getting paid a bunch of money, 1/3 of the millions of dollars their clients received.
So, this is why we charge for consultations, and it is also why we are worth it. And it is truly a bargain.