How To Pay Your Attorney

Attorneys can be paid in several ways. And if you are unfamiliar with the various payment methods, you aren’t alone. People hear attorneys advertising that they only get paid when you win. ‘Billable hours” is a common phrase that people associate with lawyers too. Because these terms are at odds with one another, the confusion isn’t surprising.

Engaging in any business relationship without understanding the related costs and how you are expected to pay them would make anyone nervous. If you are a first-time homebuyer, this could be your first interaction with an attorney. After we go over the different payment methods, you will see that working with a lawyer isn’t as complicated as it may seem. And we always aim to make it an enjoyable experience regardless.

Hourly Rate

The way lawyers charge their clients is usually connected with the type of law they practice. If you hire an attorney for litigation, you may be charged by the hour. Law firms employ this method because they cannot account for the amount of work they may be expected to put into your case. There are too many variables to consider. To account for this, a lawyer bills you for the work she does.

Each month, you will likely receive a detailed account of what the attorney did for you and how long it took. If you prefer seeing this more frequently, it is ok to discuss that with your attorney.

Flat Fees

Flat fees are exactly what they sound like. You hire an attorney, and she tells you upfront what her representation will cost. Flat fees are commonly associated with the scope of representation.

For example, imagine that you are buying a home. You meet with a real estate attorney, and she explains that she would be happy to work with you. She quotes you a flat fee for her services. However, the services are specific. This is the scope of work. For a real estate attorney, she may include the following with her flat fee:

  • Representation at closing
  • Title search
  • Closing settlement services 
  • Preparing documents for a loan

The above list is not everything a real estate attorney provides. However, if the work is included in the scope of work, it is covered by the flat fee. And it is entirely acceptable to ask what is included with your attorney’s fee. If something arises outside the scope of work, the attorney would have the ability to discuss a different cost for her representation.


In a personal injury case, for example, the damages to you may be significant. However, you may not have the money to pay an attorney hourly to receive them. Some attorneys are willing to take your case on contingency. If you win your case, you will pay your attorney with an agreed-upon portion of that money.

Attorneys will likely consider how much you might recover and how strong your case is. It is important to note that states dictate which type of cases lawyers can take on a contingency basis.

Thomas & Webber Law at the Lake

Buying or selling your home is a significant milestone in your life. At Thomas & Webber, we practice real estate law because we enjoy being there with you. If you are purchasing or selling a home in the Lake Norman area, contact us to schedule a consultation. Working with the right attorney can be an enjoyable experience, and we look forward to representing you.

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Thomas & Webber Law at the Lake

Our entire legal team is committed to providing you with first-class service and a knowledgeable, professional guiding hand to help you during your real estate closing.

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