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Overhead Ratios of a Law Firm

published February 11, 2013

By CEO and Founder - BCG Attorney Search left

( 1019 votes, average: 4.5 out of 5)

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The typical law office spends 45 to 50 percent of the fee dollar on the expenses of operating the office. These funds go for non-lawyer salaries, rent, telephone, library, equipment, supplies and other facilities. The comparison of overhead percentage ratios is, in fact, quite a game among some lawyers. We are often asked: "What should a law firm's overhead ratio be?" An answer such as 45 percent, derived from some recent survey, will often satisfy the questioner; or he may be unhappy because he realizes that in his shop, the figure is higher, say 55 percent.

Overhead Ratios Of A Law Firm

Actually, the percentage ratio of overhead is quite unimportant and firm to firm comparisons of this number may be misleading. One Western firm of three lawyers that provided information to the authors for 1987 showed an expense ratio of 60 percent. Non-lawyer salaries alone were taking 30 percent of every fee dollar. Some firms of that size can operate on a 38 percent total expense ratio!

But the lawyers of that firm averaged income of $175,000 each in 1987, a figure far above normal. The firm used paralegal assistants and modern techniques to improve the productivity of its lawyers rather than hiring more lawyers. Such innovations change overhead ratios from the "norms" quoted in some quarters, but the dollar rewards of such organization speak for themselves.

In calculating the percentage of gross receipts spent on overhead, the compensation of all lawyers is normally excluded. That is, all payments to lawyers are treated as part of "profit." Unless this is done, a firm will be unable to compare its own year-to-year overhead ratio. Here's why:

Green and Jones operated as a partnership of two partners with an associate. The firm's annual financial report showed:

  • Gross Receipts $140,000 = 100.0%
  • Expenses (except Associate ) 40,000 = 28.6%
  • Associate's Cost 20,000 = 14.3%
  • Profit 80,000 = 57.2%
Then the associate becomes a partner, but the next year duplicates the financial results:
  • Gross Receipts $140,000 = 100.0%
  • Expenses 40,000 = 28.6%
  • Profit Then 100,000 = 71.4%

Actually, what we have termed "profit" here is really "lawyer compensation." If Green and Jones now become a professional corporation, and still want to compare their year-to-year financial results, they will have to adopt the latter term.

The overall percentage or proportion of gross fees a firm expends on all cost items is not important. For the firm with an entertainment clientele which needs posh offices, it helps little to know that the average law office expends about eight percent of its gross on occupancy. A firm which has developed the paralegal concept to the point where it employs an average of four non-lawyers to each lawyer will not meet the "norm" of spending eighteen percent of gross on non-lawyer employment costs. The fact that most firms spends one percent of fees on library will not impress the senior partner with a love for books, nor the isolated small town firm which must maintain a substantial library.

Actually, the ratio of expenses to gross fees will change dramatically if billing is increased while the line is held on expenses. Quite often, the law firm which seeks consulting advice because of a high overhead ratio needs help not in controlling its costs, but in its methods of billing and collection. On the other hand, many very prosperous law firms operate with a very high percentage of overhead costs. It often takes money to make money.

Capital Accounts


In a partnership, paid-in capital consists of funds belonging to individual partners which have been turned over to the firm. Generally speaking, these accounts divide into two distinctively different parts:

  1. Invested capital is the un-depreciated value of furniture, library, office machines, leasehold improvements, buildings and the like. These items are the firm's fixed assets.
  2. Cash reserves are funds which belong to the partners, but are held, either temporarily or permanently, to meet the cash needs of the firm.

When a law firm purchases an item that cannot be expensed in the year of purchase, the result is an addition to the partners' capital accounts. For example, most office machines will be depreciated over a period of five years. If straight depreciation is used, this means that 20 percent of the value of the machine will be reported as an expense each year. In the first year, the other 80 percent comes out of the after-tax pockets of the partners.

There are various methods of crediting the amounts to partners' individual accounts. Most often, each partner is charged with such expenditures in the proportion of his or her interest in the profits of the firm. In other words, a partner who will receive 30 percent of firm profit will also make a 30 percent contribution to nondeductible expenses. By the same token, the partner will receive 30 percent of the depreciation credit for purchases of former years. A firm may, however, allocate capital contributions in a different way from profit distribution. This requires a specific agreement.

Most firms pay their partners on a regular weekly or monthly schedule. But some pay partners only when a drawing is requested by one of them. This may mean that some partners leave their shares of money in the firm, while others may withdraw their share, or more. When this happens, cash capital accounts must be constantly altered.

Some partnerships make a distinction between required cash capital or reserves and temporarily-held profit.

This whole picture is, of course, different for those law firms which operate in the corporate form. Corporations have paid-in capital, but they issue stock in exchange.


In a corporation, capital is usually contributed in the ratio of shares owned, but not necessarily in any correlation with compensation received. Only profits must be distributed on the basis of shares in the form of dividends, but in law firm corporations most of the owners' compensation will result from being employees rather than shareholders.

Cash Flow and Control


Little attention is paid by many law firms to matters of cash flow and short term investment of firm funds.

Some law firms insist on a substantial reserve of cash. Few firms need more cash on hand than the expenses of one month of operation, and some can get by on less. (Exceptions are firms which deal in few, large matters which cause very irregular cash flow). A line of credit with a bank may be as good as a substantial cash reserve.

Professional corporations may require short loans at the end of the year to guard against reporting substantial profits. Otherwise, a professional corporation which has purchased any amount of capitalized items, not deductible in the year of purchase, will show a book profit, even though the funds are expended. The Federal and state governments will then levy a tax on the profits. A loan enables the corporation to run out enough bonuses to employee-owners to minimize profit.

Quite often, law firms accumulate substantial sums of money during the year, and some allow such funds to sit idle. This only means that the bank, rather than the lawyers who own the funds, will collect interest on the deposits. Accumulations should be invested, either in interest-bearing accounts or certificates of deposit, or in higher yielding short term commercial paper. A good broker can be an invaluable help in managing such funds.

Near the end of the tax year, billing should consider the time-of-payment factor. Depending on how the year has gone, a firm's management may want to accelerate or slow up collections. This factor should receive constant attention during the last quarter of any year.

Budgeting Expense


The development of a budget for expenditure of funds is important both as a goal setting device and also as a means of delegating authority for expenditures without the need for a managing group to become involved in each specific purchase. In some law firms too much time is wasted in discussions of the merits of specific items of equipment or the need for an additional adding machine. A budget, which is adopted once a year by the governing body, can shortcut some of these discussions and enable a firm to plan its finances more carefully.

Budget for Expenses, while not complete in every detail, is a type of budgeting method which might be used by a more substantial law firm. Disbursements on behalf of clients are included as a reminder that this can be a source of considerable unprofitable investments for a law firm. This specimen partial budget states a summary of the firm's policy regarding disbursement.

The budget may delegate spending authority to various positions. In the illustration, the managing partner is assigned responsibility for purchase of hardware while the business manager has received authority to expend funds for salaries and supplies, etc. Another approach is to give an office manager a maximum spending authority, including the right to sign purchase contracts, up to a certain amount, i.e., $500; reserving to a managing partner or an executive committee the right of approval of any more substantial expenditure.

The firm that wants to hold one or two individuals responsible for determining the level of expenditures must, of course, give them the necessary authority to deny purchases even when requested by partners.

No budget can foresee all of the possible events which will occur within the budget period of one year. In our illustration for example, we have shown an item of $12,000 for printing and supplies. Turnover in the professional complement of a firm might quite easily cause an increase in that budget beyond $12,000. This would not be within the control of the business manager. Normal budgetary procedure is for the business manager to prepare a supplemental budget for the additional, required funds and to have it approved by the prescribed authority within the firm.

The same principle applies to all goal-setting activity. It is not always possible to foresee the contingencies which will arise, and consequently, goals may need review and alteration during the goal period. The stated goals must always be realistic.

Recouping Cash Advances for Clients


Advances made in a client's behalf for filing fees, expert witnesses, or for specific items purchased for use in a legal matter, have traditionally been billed to clients as "costs advanced" or "disbursements made" in the client's behalf.

[1}-Items Which Can Be Billed to a Client


Decades ago it was necessary for most law firms to take papers outside of their office for copying, but today firms have their own copiers and provide the service to their clients. Some firms which had no hesitancy in passing along the cost for outside copying have hesitated to bill clients for the cost of in-house copying. A majority of firms do charge clients for this service at cost, often on a hit or miss basis. Where a long distance phone call is required to advance a client's matter, the toll charge is generally billed to the client. Where the client's convenience or the cause of his legal matter is served by the lawyer traveling out of his home town, the client is usually charged for mileage, plane fare, tolls and parking. The test appears to be "Does all of the legal work of this firm require this expense, the cost of which is included in the lawyer's hourly rate or does the need for this service vary from case to case?" In the latter case, it would be inequitable to charge all clients pro rata for it. Clearly the client whose work can be done in the lawyer's office should not share the expense created by another client who requires that the lawyer travel a hundred miles on his case. This extraordinary expense is not part of the general cost of doing business which is factored into the lawyer's fee structure.

This philosophy can be applied to other instances of costs advanced for the benefit of the client and his cause: providing notarial service, using registered or certified mail rather than ordinary mail, requiring secretarial overtime because of the client's case (not the procrastination of the lawyer), special duplication, photographs, and the like.

Some firms even charge secretarial time to clients independently of the lawyer's time, on the theory that some matters take little professional time and a great deal of clerical time, whereas other work requires lawyer time heavily and little clerical work. In this case, of course, the full cost of clerical salaries and benefits should not be used in determining the lawyer's hourly rate. A rate will have to be established for clerical chargeable time. This type of clerical and lawyer hourly rate structure is becoming increasingly necessary because of the growing number of paralegal employees. If a paralegal has a billable rate, the whole overhead for that paralegal should not be included in computing a lawyer's billable rates, any more than the cost of employing an associate would be included in computing a partner's hourly rate.

[2]-Accounting for Miscellaneous Items


The most troublesome cost-advanced items, in terms of record keeping, are the small costs, such as petty cash, telephone charges, postage and photocopy charges. The collection and posting of these charges can be accomplished in a number of ways. Some systems, however, are grossly inefficient and generally result in losses.

Many offices have used lists for such charges. A sheet may be placed beside the photocopy machine and staff is instructed to write the client's name and the charge on the sheet, as copies are made.

Monthly, or more often, the bookkeeper must distribute these charges on a spread sheet in order to arrive at the amount to be charged to each matter or client. This is an inefficient and time-consuming process and is subject to error.

A better alternative is to complete a voucher slip for each charge. This is cheaper for the simple reason that the voucher slip can be sorted, while a list must be copied. It is more efficient to sort than to copy and recopy.

It is possible to have the telephone long distance operator call back with time and charges if the call is placed through an operator, but this costs additional money and clerical time. Direct dialing is the most reasonable and the most used method for long distance telephone work, but is the most difficult to control.

As the voucher slips are completed they should go to a central location, such as bookkeeping, where they will be held in date sequence until the telephone bill is received. At that time, by using reference to the date and number, the charge can be entered on each slip and the tax added. The slips would then be totaled and one entry made to the client's ledger for all of the calls to be charged. The slips may be retained until the bill is paid or a few months thereafter. Since the telephone company bill is the primary record of the expense, there is no need to retain the voucher slips for a long time.

A similar procedure can be used for the voucher slips completed for photocopying, postage and petty cash, with the one ledger entry for each or a combined total entry placed in the client's ledger.

Any law firm can realize the recoupment of many dollars of expense through better control over costs advanced for clients. If they are not recouped from the client they will come from the lawyer's pocket. One New York law firm of twenty lawyers reported an increase of $15,000 in costs reimbursed to the firm in a six-month period after a tight control was begun over miscellaneous costs advanced.

Handling Trust Accounts


The trust account is called by a variety of names in different areas. In some locations it is called the "client account," in others, the "escrow account" or the "attorneys' account." What it is called, however, is not nearly so important as the way in which this bank account is controlled and supervised.

Following is a series of guidelines handed down a few years ago by the Arizona Supreme Court, which details the proper handling of a trust account in a law firm.

The following guidelines have been adopted by the Board of Governors of the State Bar of Arizona, pursuant to Rule 29(f) (5), Rules of the Supreme Court, in order to set minimum standards to ensure that each member is in compliance with the provisions of Disciplinary Rule 9-102, Code of Professional Responsibility, and Rule 29(f), Rules of the Supreme Court, relating to trust accounts.

1. Disciplinary Rule 9-102, Code of Professional Responsibility provides in part as follows:


"DR 9-102. Preserving Identity of Funds and Property of a Client.

  • All funds of clients paid to a lawyer or law firm, other than advances for costs and expenses, shall be deposited in one or more identifiable bank accounts maintained in the state in which the law office is situated and no funds belonging to the lawyer or law firm shall be deposited therein except as follows:  
  1. Funds reasonably sufficient to pay bank charges may be de-posited therein.
  2. Funds belonging in part to a client and in part presently or potentially to the lawyer or law firm must be deposited therein but the portion belonging to the lawyer or law firm may be withdrawn when due unless the right of the lawyer or law firm to receive it is disputed by the client, in which event the disputed portion shall not be withdrawn until the dispute is finally resolved.
  • A lawyer shall:
  1. Promptly notify a client of the receipt of his funds, securities, or other properties.
  2. Identify and label securities and properties of a client promptly upon receipt and place them in a safe deposit box or other place of safekeeping as soon as practicable.
  3. Maintain complete records of all funds, securities, and other properties of a client coming into the possession of the lawyer and render appropriate accounts to his clients regarding them.
  4. Promptly pay or deliver to the client as requested by a client the funds, securities, or other properties of the lawyer which the client is entitled to receive."

2. Rule 29(f), Rules of the Supreme Court, provides in part as follows:


29 (f) Trust Account Verification Rule

  1. Every active member of the bar shall maintain complete re-cords of the handling, maintenance and disposition of all funds, securities and other assets of a client which have at any time come into his possession. These records shall cover the entire time from the receipt to the time of final disposition by the attorney of all such funds, securities, and other assets. Said funds shall be maintained in a trust account, labeled as such, and kept separate and apart from the attorney's personal and business accounts. Said attorney shall preserve these records for a period of five years after final disposition by him of said funds, securities, and other assets.
  2. This Court may order the audit of a member's trust account based on information received by the board of governors that Canon One and/or Nine of the Code of Professional Responsibility may have been violated. No such audit shall be con-ducted until approval has been granted by a Justice of Arizona Supreme Court after a petition is presented by the board. Good cause shall be shown before approval to conduct such audit is granted.

(5) The maintenance of trust accounts by members of the bar and the audit of lawyer's trust accounts as provided by this rule, shall be in accordance with minimum guidelines established by the board of governors.

Standards of Performance

  • Due professional care must be exercised in all aspects of the performance of the attorney's fiduciary duties, including, but not limited to, maintaining records and selecting banks, accountants and others who perform necessary services.
  • Assistants employees and others helping to perform the attorney's fiduciary duties must be competent and are to be properly supervised.
  • Internal controls within the attorney's office must be adequate to safeguard the client's assets, to check accuracy and reliability of all data and to comply with applicable laws and regulations.
  • Careful and complete recordation of all transactions must be made promptly.
  • Periodic and timely reports must be rendered to the client which fairly present the transactions and their results on a consistent basis. The reports should contain comprehensive disclosures which are adequate to the needs of the client.

Minimum Requirements for Books and Records Maintenance

As a minimum requirement, every attorney engaged in the private practice of law in the State of Arizona shall maintain on a current basis, books and records which establish his compliance with DR 9-102 and Rule 29(f)(1), and which shall be preserved for at least five years following the completion of his fiduciary obligation. For this purpose the following books and records are required for all fiduciary funds and property (including all funds held for clients or others):

  • A cash receipts journal listing the sources of the receipt and the date of the receipt. Receipts should be deposited intact and the duplicate deposit slip should be sufficiently detailed to identify each item.
  • A disbursements journal listing the date of the disbursement and payee. All disbursements are to be made by check.
  • A subsidiary ledger containing a separate page for each person or company for whom monies have been received in trust, showing the date of receipt and the amount, the date of the disbursement and the amount, and any unexpended balance.
  • A monthly reconciliation at month-end of the cash balance derived from the cash receipts and cash disbursements journal totals, the checkbook balance, the bank statement balance and the subsidiary ledger trial balance total.
  • Bank statements, cancelled, pre-numbered checks and duplicate deposit slips.
  • A record showing all property, specifically identified other than cash, held in trust from time to time for clients or others, including date received, and where located. The property of a client must be placed in a safe deposit box or other place of safekeeping as soon as practicable.
  • Copies of appropriate documents providing evidence of disbursements of funds and accountings to clients and others of trust account funds. No more than one year should elapse before such accountings are made.

Disposition of Retainer Fees Until Earned


Any funds received as fees by the attorney from the client shall be deposited in the attorney's trust account until earned, unless there is a written agreement with the client that such fees are earned at the time paid.

The foregoing points out some of the main Trust Account errors committed by law firms of all sizes:
  1. Law firms should not deposit and retain fee receipts in the trust account. Where a receipt represents partly clients' money and partly earned fees, the fee amount should be withdrawn and transferred into the firm general operating account. Some firms use the trust account as a clearing account for all receipts. Not only does this process cause unnecessary bookkeeping entries, but also it increases the volume of transactions handled by the trust account and increases the possibility of error.
  2. Trust account records should not be available to other than trained and trusted bookkeeping personnel. In some firms, all secretaries have access to trust checkbooks. This practice should be strictly avoided.
  3. A monthly reconciliation of the trust account books is important. Some firms never balance the trust account. In Arizona, failure to record monthly checks on the account could give rise to disciplinary action. In any jurisdiction improper accounting procedures can cause embarrassment or worse.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are The Five Main Expenses Of A Law Firm?

In the legal profession, costs are unavoidable. To provide adequate service to your clients, you must incur various costs. There are a few reasons why it is important to understand whether these expenses are considered hard or soft costs. One possibility is that your clients can reimburse you for some of these costs. Accounting for these expenses is handled differently. 

For services rendered in furtherance of a client matter, hard costs generally involve direct payments to vendors. Chase Cost Management describes a hard cost as "a short-term loan the firm extends to the client when the firm pays for a product or service on the client's behalf." These are expenses that the client understands and even expects. As clients perceive them as essential components of legal services, they are more willing to reimburse the firm for them.

Some examples of hard costs include:
  • Court filing fees
  • Witness fees
  • Laboratory fees
  • Deposition expenses
  • Medical and record expenses

These costs are typically handled by law firms upfront and sent to clients for reimbursement. Hard costs are categorized as law practice expenses, so they are deducted directly from a firm's earnings.

How Do You Calculate Overhead For A Law Firm?

All indirect costs of running a business are considered overhead costs. Your ongoing expenses support your business but are not directly linked to the creation of a product or service.

The calculation of overhead costs is important not only for law firm budgeting but also for determining how much the business should charge for a service or product to earn a profit margin. For example, if you run a service-based business, apart from the direct costs of providing the service, you will also incur overhead expenses such as rent, utilities, and insurance.

Overhead costs of the business are calculated by categorizing each overhead expense of the business for a specific time period, typically by breaking them down by month. Although indirect costs are overheads, you need to be careful when categorizing them.

Legal expenses, for example, are typically classified as overhead costs. If you own a law firm, these expenses directly contribute to the production and are therefore a part of your direct costs.

Once you have categorized the expenses, add up the overhead costs for the accounting period.

The overhead percentage can now be calculated as a percentage of sales. Your overhead percentage tells you how much your business spends on overhead and how much it spends on making a product or service.

Calculate Overhead Rate

Divide the total overhead costs of the business by the monthly sales to determine the overhead rate. Multiply this number by 100 to determine the overhead rate.

For example, say your business had $10,000 in overhead costs in a month and $50,000 in sales.

Overhead Rate = Overhead Costs / Sales

The overhead rate is $10,000 / $50,000 = .2 or 20%

Every dollar that the business earns is spent on overheads at a rate of twenty cents.

What Are Law Firm Expenses?

The first step is to brainstorm a mandatory law firm budget. It is also a good idea to outline what resources you have on hand (starting capital, already existing equipment, etc.) and set some money aside for any surprises you might encounter.

For starters, here is a non-exhaustive list. Some of these are optional, while others can be found for free or repurposed from what you already have (a laptop in good condition, or a smartphone). There will be some expenses your firm incurs annually, some monthly, and some only once.

Possible Law Firm Expenses

  • Bar association dues (state and/or local bars)
  • Mandatory continuing legal education (MCLE) subscriptions
  • Malpractice coverage
  • Office space
  • Co-working space
  • Shared office
  • Utilities and internet access
  • Hardware:
  • Laptop or desktop computer
  • Backup cloud drive
  • Monitor(s)
  • Printer and consumables (paper, ink, etc.)
  • Scanner (either part of a printer or separate)
  • Fax machine
  • Landline or VoIP business phone
  • Smartphone
  • Mouse
  • Computer charger(s)
  • Software and services:
  • Cell phone service
  • Microsoft Office
  • Law practice management software
  • Accounting software
  • Legal research software
  • Marketing Budget
  • Business cards
  • Website
  • Advertising costs (pay-per-click ads, social ads)
  • Networking events
  • Miscellaneous Expenses
  • Mousepad
  • Laptop stand
  • Office chair
  • Office desk (standing/sitting desk)
  • Lockable file cabinets
  • Tape
  • Envelopes
  • Pens
  • Paper
  • Highlighter
  • Dividers

Ask yourself three big questions for each item you are considering cutting from this list: 
  1. Will this save me time that I can put towards more billable work? 
  2. Will this help me find more business? 
  3. Do the benefits outweigh the cost?

Almost every lawyer could do their research using their local law libraries, but if you have to do it often and the library is not nearby, a subscription might make sense. Moreover, the referrals gained from a legal conference may seem like a luxury, but the benefits can be enormous.

What Is A Good Profit Margin For A Law Firm?

It is important to define overhead carefully. Overhead is generally considered to include all legal expenses fewer attorney salaries and sometimes fewer paralegal salaries. The overhead ratio is then the overhead divided by the firm's revenue. An owner's (partner's, shareholder's, etc.) profit margin is expressed in terms of their earnings. That is, what goes into the pockets of the owner in terms of salary, profit share, etc. Firm revenue less all firm expenses, including the salaries of associates and paralegals, but not the salary of the owner. Profit margin is the difference between total expenses (excluding owner compensation) and revenue.

Law firms should aim for profit margins between thirty-five and forty-five percent.  Some firms achieve profit margins of fifty percent. The margin of profit depends on the practice type, the leverage ratio (associates to partners), and the management of the firm. Some firms have very high partner incomes while the profit margins are as low as twenty percent.

How Much Should Our Law Firm Be Spending On Staff And General Overhead?

The balance between expenses and income must be adjusted often when running a business. This applies to law firms as well.

Staffing requires a similar understanding that certain expenses are necessary to build long-term gains.

You need to balance what it costs to retain good people (and not have to constantly train new ones) with how much you need to earn as a firm owner or partner.

In law firms, the profit margin is essentially the earnings of the firm partners. When all your expenses are covered, how much will the firm partners walk away with? An ideal profit margin for a law firm is between 35 and 45 percent. This percentage can be used to estimate how much should be spent on staff and overhead.

It is absolutely normal to need to experiment, calculate, adjust, and calculate again, especially if you are just starting out, growing, or going through some restructuring. Even if you think you have got it figured out, do not expect everything to remain the same.

You may find it helpful to understand financial patterns as you make adjustments. By analyzing recurring patterns and metrics with a good practice management system, you can build a deeper understanding of your firm.

What Are Legal Expenses?

Legal Expenses means the fees, costs and expenses of any kind incurred by any Person indemnified herein and its counsel in investigating, preparing for, defending against, or providing evidence, producing documents, or taking other action with respect to any threatened or asserted Claim.

For legal services, a lawyer may charge you lawyer's fees as well as additional expenses and costs. Depending on whether your lawyer will represent you in court, you may also have to pay a filing fee or other court costs.

The bill from your lawyer may include a number of costs. Some lawyers may charge separately for these costs. Other lawyers may lump the expenses together on your bill as a separate item, while others may include some of these costs in their fees. Ask your lawyer if these types of expenses are included in the bill and if they will be itemized. Other expenses may include:
  • Filing Fees and Court Costs
  • Photocopying
  • Telephone and Postage Charges
  • Paralegal Time
  • Messengers
  • Computer or Research Related Costs
  • Secretarial and Staff Time
  • Deposition and Court Reporter Costs
  • Facsimiles (faxes)
  • Experts, Consultants, and Witness Fees
  • Investigators
  • Process Servers (delivery of legal documents relating to a case)
  • Travel Expenses

In addition to the above charges, there may be others. If you want to make sure you understand all the costs you will incur, ask your lawyer for a written estimate of anticipated costs. If there is a set rate for certain costs (e.g., $0.15 per page for copying costs), you should find out. You can also tell your lawyer that any costs over a certain amount need to be approved by you before they are incurred if you are concerned about costs building up. Some of these costs can also be negotiated in advance.

Lawyers typically charge fees in four different ways, including:
  • Billable Hour: An attorney may decide billing based on an hourly rate for your case. A regular invoice will be sent to you, usually once a month, that details all the work done on the case by the attorney, multiplied by his hourly rate. Initially, the attorney may give you an estimate of how much it will cost. This, however, should not be taken as a guarantee. The law firm may provide discounts, but you must pay the actual cost.
  • Flat Fees: The attorney charges a set fee for standard legal services, which covers all services provided until the case is resolved. These are common in cases where there are no complex factual or legal issues. If the circumstances of the case change, the arrangement may have to be adjusted.
  • Contingency Fees: Attorneys in these types of cases earn a fee based on a percentage of what they can recover for you. You owe only the expenses incurred, not the attorney fee if the case is not settled or won. In personal injury cases including car accidents, workers compensation, wrongful death, motorcycle accidents, slip and fall claims, and product liability claims, contingency fee arrangements are very common.
  • Hybrid Fees: Combining two or more of the above, it is often structured based on whether a trial is required. For instance, an attorney may charge an hourly fee for work up to the trial, and a flat fee for the trial itself.)

Please see the following articles for more information about law firm jobs:
    Please see the following articles for more information about law firm jobs:

Alternative Summary

Harrison is the founder of BCG Attorney Search and several companies in the legal employment space that collectively gets thousands of attorneys jobs each year. Harrison’s writings about attorney careers and placement attract millions of reads each year. Harrison is widely considered the most successful recruiter in the United States and personally places multiple attorneys most weeks. His articles on legal search and placement are read by attorneys, law students and others millions of times per year.

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About LawCrossing

LawCrossing has received tens of thousands of attorneys jobs and has been the leading legal job board in the United States for almost two decades. LawCrossing helps attorneys dramatically improve their careers by locating every legal job opening in the market. Unlike other job sites, LawCrossing consolidates every job in the legal market and posts jobs regardless of whether or not an employer is paying. LawCrossing takes your legal career seriously and understands the legal profession. For more information, please visit www.LawCrossing.com.