Why is legal representation so expensive? One reason is that lawyers have to spend at least 7 years in college to qualify to practice law. And we all know how expensive college costs are today. Most of the other reasons are case-specific. For example, a divorce may cost as much as $1500 even without having to go to trial. This may seem like a high price for such a simple thing, but there are many things a lawyer must do in a divorce case. Let’s spell some of these things out.
The first thing a lawyer must do is prepare a summons and complaint. This will take a skilled lawyer about an hour to complete. Next, these documents (and a few others) must then be filed with the court, along with a filing fee of $175 ($255 if you have kids). If we consider an average attorney’s hourly rate to be somewhere between $150 and $450 an hour, we are already looking at a total of around $500-$600. When you add the time necessary for scheduled hearings, discovery, and motion practice, you can easily see why you would get such a big bill.
I always tell prospective clients what their estimated costs will be. I will also send out a monthly invoice to show a client exactly what work has been done so far. Sticker shock can always be minimized by knowing what to expect in your case. Ask the attorney what charges will occur. Do not be afraid to question anything that seems out of the ordinary to you. One of the most important aspects of any representation is communication. An attorney has a legal duty to educate the client and consistently communicate all actions that will be taken on your case.
Don’t be shocked, be informed.