Why Your Lawyer Really Doesn’t Know How Much Your Case Will Cost
To determine how much a case would cost, a lawyer would need to be able to see into the future. Even when a lawyer charges a flat fee for a case, there will still be other costs to consider. Let’s take a look at some of the costs a case could encounter, ones a lawyer would have no way of knowing in advance of a case’s conclusion.
- To begin with, if you are paying by the hour or sometimes in increments of minutes, a lawyer will charge a specific amount per hour or the number of minutes. However, it cannot be determined ahead how much time the lawyer will need to spend on your case.
- In many instances, there will be a mediation before a court hearing. In fact, sometimes, a state will require mediation before a court date can be set. While there is a cost for mediation, this cost can vary depending on the mediator your lawyer chooses.
- Most mediations, depositions, and court hearings will require a court recorder to record all that is said during these proceedings. The length and complexity of the proceedings will determine the cost and, of course, are not known in advance.
- Should mediation be successful and the final outcome is determined and approved by a judge, your lawyer can send you a final bill. However, if you do not resolve the case at mediation, lawyer fees will continue, as will fees of other services such as pleadings in court, preparing paperwork for discovery of several kinds, depositions, and researching the use of various witnesses.
- Some cases require special expert witnesses. These witnesses can be very expensive but offer important proof regarding certain aspects of the case. For example, if there is a question regarding the finances of a party, a forensic accountant may be used. If a parent is trying to show the need for specialized care for a minor child, a child psychiatrist qualified to be an expert witness may be needed.
- Phone calls, emails, text messages, and in-person consultations will each have their costs depending on the time it takes for completion. These charges may be included in a flat fee.
- Court costs will vary depending on the case and how often it is necessary to appear in court. There are also costs for filing documents and for making copies of documents.
- If a lawyer must travel to represent you in court, there will be travel expenses.
- And last but not least, you will have expenses of your own, from extra child care costs while you attend case-related events to the extra costs of copying the many proofs you may need to prove a point or to show the receipt of purchase for an item or service.
If your case is a simple one, very straightforward, and no one opposing the desired outcome, such as adoption or bankruptcy, a lawyer may be able to give you a rough estimate of the cost of your case. Otherwise, you will need to realize there will be ongoing charges until the case is finally settled.