Legal fees can be shocking, to say the least. One of the biggest complaints clients of lawyers have is that they didn’t know what to expect when it comes to their lawyer’s fees. Even though fees are set out in advance of establishing a lawyer-client relationship, clients are often surprised at how much time a lawyer spends on their case and as such can be surprised at the ultimate cost of services. Another factor that clients don’t always realize is that lawyer fees are essentially unregulated – lawyers can charge whatever rate they like and there are different fee arrangements too. With that in mind, knowing how much it will cost to hire a labour lawyer can be difficult to define, but knowing more about these fee arrangements will help you understand how much to expect a labour lawyer to cost.
Hourly rates are conventional fee arrangements for labour lawyers. With hourly rates, lawyers are paid for the time they spend on your case which means there isn’t always a lot of incentive for them to settle cases efficiently. Hourly rates are a great choice for concrete tasks including contract review, but not great if you anticipate a lawsuit. Court costs themselves are quite expensive, and if you have to pay your lawyer’s hourly rate as well, you could be in for a hefty bill. Also, if you seek employment law services, there’s a good chance your employer knows your funds are limited and they’ll be motivated to drag the case out as long as possible so that you simply cannot afford your lawyer’s time.
Labour lawyers also work on contingency. Contingency agreements are those in which lawyer’s take your case based on their estimates of damages you may recover. With contingencies, lawyers will agree to take your case with no or little up-front cost, but will take a percentage of your settlement – usually between 20 and 30 per cent. If you have a strong case, a contingency agreement will allow you to access legal services without concern for escalating costs as they are fixed in advance and dependent on court awards. However, it’s important to know that lawyers are playing the odds – if they offer a contingency agreement, they likely realize there is a potential for a large settlement and they’d be better off with a contingency agreement than an hourly result.
Time versus Result
Finally, some lawyers will also charge clients based on the greater amount of hourly or contingency agreements. These are the least beneficial for clients because a lawyer is going to get paid a percentage of your settlement/court award or hourly rate – whichever is greater.
Ultimately, as the client, it is important for you to consider the different types of fee agreements before hiring a labour lawyer and negotiate an agreement that works best for you.