Nothing written on this blog should be construed as legal advice, or a legal opinion on any matter. Nothing on this blog is intended to be such.
This YouTuber has some good content on how lawsuits work, and evaluating the costs of attending law school. He also reviews movies for torts and crimes.
FINDING AN ATTORNEY
For advice on legal matters, please consult your own attorney. You can find an attorney in your state/locale by conducting the following search:
[State name] attorney search
The search will lead you either to the State Bar, or State Bar Association page, where you will be able to see a list of attorneys. Examples are:
Also consider consulting your County Bar Association, or County Legal Aid (sometimes formed as nonprofits), or similar group.
Once you find an attorney, or have a list of attorneys, go to their websites, their social media pages, and do an internet search of their name. When looking at websites that rate attorneys, consider if any negative review is from a disgruntled client.
COSTS OF AN ATTORNEY
Many attorneys give free consultations. During these consultations, the attorney will try to gauge the merits of the case, the value of the case, and your ability to pay (with an emphasis on the last). It may be in your interest to not disclose your financial situation until you have sufficient information to hire an attorney. Don’t be afraid to shop around for attorneys.
For most of the United States, the base price for an attorney will be $150.00 an hour. In major metropolitan areas, or states such as California, Florida, and New York, you can expect the minimum to be $300 an hour. The average fee in NYC is over $700 an hour.
Hours are normally billed at 15 minute increments (but may vary by State and City).
Some attorneys will take cases on contingency, meaning they will “work for free,” until resolution of the case, where they will take 30-40% of what the attorney recovers. The % covers the liability of losing the case, hours worked, all court costs, etc.
Other attorneys will have a hybrid structure, requiring an initial retainer, and then contingency, or a retainer (of $5,000 to $10,000). Once the attorney works through the retainer with fees, expenses, and hours, you will be billed on a regular basis (or will have to pay up front). The figures listed above are for markets where the average hourly rate is $150. Adjust accordingly.
If you have certain federal claims, the attorney may take it “on contingency,” and then bill for attorneys fees, which are a statutory entitlement (meaning the losing side pays).
When you are paying an attorney, you are paying for their livelihood, 7 years + of schooling (many law schools prohibit working until law students are upperclassmen), their license and association costs, malpractice insurance, other forms of insurance, CLE, and keeping up with all legal developments.
COST OF LITIGATION
The most basic lawsuit right now is not profitable unless the damages are around $10,000. Multiply that for urban areas, and the complexity of the case. The damages must be enough for the attorney to recover their costs, and for the client to recover an award. This is a problem with our legal system right now, as the gap between what I just described, and the maximum value for small claims court, is quite significant. The effect of this is that many people with valid claims (especially car wrecks), and without many financial resources, are shut out of the legal system (do not call it a justice system- there is often little justice found in courts).