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Contingency vs. Hourly Legal Fees - What's the Difference?

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Contingency Vs. Hourly Legal Fees

In initial consultations with our potential clients, we’re often asked the difference between contingency fee agreements and hourly rates. The difference in the amount you owe and when you owe it can vary greatly depending on your fee agreement with your attorney.

So what’s the difference?

With hourly fees, the client pays a fixed hourly rate for the attorney’s time spent on the case. The hourly rate usually depends on the attorney’s experience and may also include an hourly rate for others working on your case including paralegals and law clerks. The hourly rate is typically presented to the client in an engagement letter or agreement before work begins.

Attorneys who work on a contingency fee basis collect a percentage only when the case has been won or settled successfully. Usually this percentage amount is presented to the client in a form of a contract before legal services begin.

The attorneys of Tobias, McCormick & Comer work on a contingency fee basis, like most personal injury attorneys.

How are you affected by different legal fee structures?

Hourly billing puts more of the financial risk for the legal matter with you, the client. No matter the outcome of your case, you are responsible to pay your attorney for the time spent on your case. Billing can begin as soon as the attorney begins working on your legal matter.

Working on a contingency fee basis puts more of the financial risk with the attorney. The attorney does not get paid unless the legal matter is settled or won in court. In other words, the attorney does not get paid unless he or she is successful. Therefore, billing takes place after the case is won or settled.

The type of fee structure can also depend on the type of attorney you need. For example, most family and divorce lawyers work from an hourly rate. Most personal injury attorneys will work on a contingency fee basis.

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The attorneys of Tobias, McCormick & Comer have a combined experience of more than 30 years successfully representing automobile accident cases. To learn more about our personal injury experience, please visit www.tobiascomer.com/expertise. To schedule a free consultation, please visit www.tobiascomer.com/contact