The biggest complaint from clients, is that they don’t understand what exactly they are paying for when they hire attorneys. This is for clients that are billed by the hour, not a percentage of the settlement (what will be addressed in a different post).
When a client signs an hourly fee agreement for the lawyer’s time, that means just that, the time the lawyer spends on the case, not just the time in Court. There are different types of fees that attorneys can charge: 1. Flat fee, where you pay one fee for entire case; 2. Contingency fee where, you pay a percentage of the settlement; and 3. Hourly fee, when you pay for the attorney’s time.
When you pay an hourly fee, which means that you pay an attorney for the time in Court, and the time it takes to prepare for court, including but not limited to:
1. Reading emails;
2. Responding to emails;
3. Listening to voicemails;
4. Responding to voicemails;
5. Talking to the client and the party on the other side, either the attorney or the non-represented party;
6. Researching the law;
7. Drafting and writing letters, Court documents, etc;
8. Preparing for Court, which includes practicing arguments for Court and writing outlines of what they will say and how they will respond to what the other side will probably say;
9. Preparing for depositions (which includes hours of preparation on either side);
10. Going through any and all documents they receive from the other side; and
11. Much, much more.
As a client, you are entitled to an explanation of what the attorney does when you pay them by the hour, just realize that most of what they do to represent you, you won’t actually see. Even when you are in Court, sometimes, the attorney’s best advice is to not say anything, as they will have most likely have already made their “argument” in whatever they have previously filed with the Court before you are there.