Published On: Fri, Nov 23rd, 2018

Why Lawyers Charge What They Charge

It is easy for most to conclude that legal fees are too expensive. However, knowing the true nature of why lawyers charge what they charge will very likely make you rethink your opinion on the matter. Lawyers from Parker Waichman LLP as well as other experts in the field help explain in simple terms how lawyers charge you for their services.

gavel judge court case ruling

photo by Okan Caliskan via Pixabay


There is a story about a boilermaker who simply tapped a valve in a steamship to get the engine working. The boilermaker then charged 50 cents for tapping the valve and $999.50 for “knowing where to tap.”

It takes time, a huge amount of effort and considerable financial investment to become a lawyer. Even after passing the bar exam, lawyers still need to stay up-to-date with laws that are changing constantly to remain current and give their clients the best representation possible. In other words, “knowing where to tap” makes up a portion of their fees.

As with any other profession, experience makes lawyers better at what they do. This is where their charges in terms of expertise will vary. However, the costs and sacrifices they have to make to enter the practice should at least help partly explain why legal fees cost as much as it does.


It is important to keep in mind that “knowing where to tap” only makes up a portion of a lawyer’s fees. A big chunk of such fees goes to disbursements or out-of-pocket expenses that your lawyer will spend for you. While on your case, your lawyer may need to make long-distance calls and emails to go along with the legal document preparation, printing, postage, courier services, court filing fees and government fees for such documents.

Depending on the complexity of your case, your lawyer may also need to spend money to acquire medical reports, court transcripts or hire a team of researchers. There are also certain cases that may require the services of private investigators or where the lawyers will need to compensate experts in varying fields for consultations or court appearances.

Tailor-made Services

The legal service that your lawyer provides suits your particular situation specifically. When you consult with a lawyer for your case, it is highly unlikely that he will give the same advice to another client, even if there are similarities in the cases. Different variables and circumstances will require the lawyer to give different advice and services to best suit each case.

With this in mind, it would be foolish to think that lawyers have templates that they can take out of their briefcases or file cabinets. Rather, they need to listen to you and consider the important factors of your case to give you the best possible solutions and course of action.


Have you ever experienced fretting about case for weeks and then felt better after consulting with a lawyer? This is usually the case because, for one, you know that they know “where to tap.” Second, all lawyers make it a point to reassure you that they will do what they can to give you the best possible resolution for your case. More than anything else, they do this because their reputation depends on it, and the outcome will speak volumes of their ability. Once you hire a lawyer, your problem essentially becomes their problem. You will very likely sleep more soundly at night after hiring him or her.

Remember that these are not the only aspects that determine the cost of your lawyer’s services. There are other factors that may add to your bill, including office rent, professional indemnity insurance, administrative support and travel expenses. It is always a good idea to get a complete listing of your charges and any explanations for anything you don’t comprehend.

When hiring a lawyer, things may get complicated once you start discussing his or her fees, which is why a free consultation is usually offered by most attorneys. You can be sure that the lawyer will do his or her best to explain all costs upfront with you, so make sure to ask for an explanation about any fees that you do not understand. The key is to establish a pleasant working relationship with your lawyer.

Author: Bruno Souza

On the DISPATCH: Headlines  Local  Opinion

Subscribe to Weekly Newsletter

* indicates required

About the Author

- Outside contributors to the Dispatch are always welcome to offer their unique voices, contradictory opinions or presentation of information not included on the site.


Leave a comment

XHTML: You can use these html tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

Sign up for our Weekly Newsletter



At the Movies

Pin It