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Are Lawyer’s Fees Negotiable?

July 7th, 2009

What is oftentimes a major factor in lawyer selection in criminal cases comes down to what the lawyer’s fees will be. A fee between a lawyer and a client is not set by law, but is negotiable. There are many factors that one should consider in evaluating an appropriate lawyer fee, including the amount of the fee in proportion to the value of the services to be provided, the experience of the lawyer performing the services, the stakes involved for the client, and the time involved for the lawyer, to name but a few.

In criminal cases the standard type of fee arrangement most often used is the flat fee. There are many reasons for this. Persons facing criminal charges are generally compromised financially, and are not in a position to pay a lawyer hourly rates. Because of incarceration clients may not be able to keep up with any type of a payment schedule. Oftentimes clients make an initial payment and then are not able to pay the balance. The flat fee is also generally more cost effective for the client in that the lawyer’s time actually invested in a case may likely exceed the time the fee would otherwise indicate if the lawyer was charging on an hourly basis.

For many, the issue of selecting and paying a lawyer is about securing the peace of mind that comes from being confident that your lawyer is fully committed to your best interests, and skilled in performing whatever tasks a particular undertaking may require. That kind of comfort and confidence in your lawyer is what everyone should expect, but it is difficult to put a price on.

It is this writer’s opinion that in light of the potentially horrific consequences of a criminal proceeding it is never wise to choose a lawyer based exclusively on price. As anyone who has had the experience of working with lawyers knows, the old adage: “You get what you pay for” more often than not, applies to lawyers, just as it does to any other group of professional service providers.

If you have questions regarding lawyer fees in criminal cases please contact San Jose criminal defense lawyer Bernard P. Bray


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