Most people who hire lawyers complain about lawyer fees. Since the fees are not regulated, lawyers use billing practices that will favor them. When this happens, their clients pay a lot of money to get professional services. To make it worse, most lawyers work directly with the general public thus increasing their chances of charging extra money. It is very important to understand the different types of fees arrangement offered by an employment lawyer. This will not only help you choose the right arrangement but also negotiate for better rates. Here are common fee arrangements offered by employment lawyers:
1. Hourly rates agreements
This is the ideal option when you have a defined task, e.g., a severance package or reviewing a contract. If you don’t have a defined task, you can end up paying a lot of money due to delays, unnecessary or excessive tactics. Here, lawyers are paid depending on the quality of their time. Although it is the most convenient option, it provides little incentive for lawyers to settle a case practically.
Even if you have got a competent lawyer, in employment law the outcome is highly unpredictable. Therefore, you may end up paying your lawyer and still lose the lawsuit. On the other hand, employers know that going to court is expensive to ordinary people. This means that ordinary people cannot afford to pay lawyers hourly even if they are willing.
2. Contingency agreements
In a contingency agreement, all the risks in a case are taken by a lawyer depending on what you agree on in writing. The lawyer’s fee is usually an agreed percentage between 20% and 33% depending on the case among other factors. The lawyer is paid if there is a court award or a legal settlement. This arrangement ensures that there are no disputes over lawyers’ fees because there is a written agreement based on the outcomes. Secondly, this arrangement allows individuals who have strong cases to pursue them without fearing that legal costs might escalate.
However, this arrangement has some disadvantages. For instance, most lawyers do not take cases unless they know there is enough potential reward. Therefore, those individuals with strong cases rarely get represented. Secondly, some lawyers tend to settle the vase quickly and cheaply to get paid and move on to another case. In a contingency agreement, individuals take much less risk when compared to the lawyer. But, they have little control of the case and most of the time they get inferior results.
3. Time spent and results
This arrangement usually favors the lawyer because he/she has two options to charge. The lawyers’ fees can be based on the time spent on the case or an agreed upon percentage of the result. The lawyer usually chooses the most favorable method to get paid. For instance, if a case is settled for $100,000 a lawyer can claim 25% ($25,000) – agreed upon percentage of the result. On the other hand, if the case is not settled and the plaintiff is offered $100,000 at trial, the lawyer can also charge for time spent on the case which could also be around $25,000. The lawyer usually gets paid depending on the results of the case basing his or her judgment on what is more favorable.
4. Oral agreements
This is a risky arrangement because you don’t have any supporting documentation. The lawyers’ fees might change depending on the outcomes of the case. Some lawyers prefer using this arrangement to exploit their clients because they have legal experience and know-how. However, even if you don’t have a written agreement, there are some ways which you can still assess the value the work provided by your lawyer. Nevertheless, this should be done before the case is settled and an agreement reached to avoid having problems after the case is settled.
Lawyers who prefer using contingency and hourly agreements should take on some risks to be fair. For instance, their hourly rates should be lower, or they should have a smaller percentage of the result. For you to negotiate for a better percentage of a lower hourly rate, you need to research before hiring a lawyer. Also, you can get referrals from friends or relative who have hired a lawyer recently.
These local tips were provided by Michael Lee, the writer of our blog and attorney at the Lesperance Mendes Lawyers in Vancouver. Check Michael’s practice out here:
Lesperance Mendes Lawyers: Offering Employment Lawyer Vancouver BC – LM Law – Vancouver Employment Lawyer
900 Howe St #550, Vancouver, BC V6Z 2M4