There are many different possible fee structures.
a. Pro Bono - this is where a lawyer is providing representation for free (“for the public good”). Public defenders may be able to provide pro bono service, but only if your income and assets are low enough to qualify.
b. Contingency Fee – this is where an attorney does not require you to pay an up- front fee, and agrees to represent you for a portion of any eventual recovery. In this situation, the attorney takes on most of the risk of the case. The more money the lawyer makes for you, the more money the lawyer makes for themselves. Only certain types of cases can be handled on a contingency fee basis.
c. Low Bono/Reduced Fee – this is where an attorney provides a discounted rate to a low or moderate income client in legal need who does not qualify free legal help from legal services organizations like Legal Aid. Civil Justice has a network of private lawyers who are committed to providing affordable low bono/reduced fee representation, or contingency fee representation in appropriate cases.
d. Flat Fee – this is where an attorney agrees to handle a matter for a set amount. That set amount makes your costs for representation more predictable. But because some complex matters involve very unpredictable factors, flat fees may not be available in many types of cases.
e. Hourly – this is where an attorney will track their time and bill the client for the work performed. A lawyer will frequently ask for a “retainer,” which is like a down-payment on the attorney’s fees. For example, if a lawyer’s hourly rate is $200.00 an hour and the retainer is $1,000.00, the first five hours of the lawyer’s time would be covered by the retainer and then the client will need to pay more for any additional time.