Is It Really About the Money?

Anyone who has ever had needed legal advice or representation knows that lawyers are expensive. Some of you may wonder if clients are really getting their money’s worth when they hire an attorney to represent them. After all, the average cost of a private criminal defense attorney in the U.S. is just around $8000.

However, lawyers aren’t the ones to lay the blame on: they’re trying to actually mitigate the costs for you. Competitive pricing and overall expensive legal costs can leave potential clients feeling overwhelmed and lost. But, not all lawyers are priced the same way. In reality, what you pay for is not always what you get: more expensive doesn’t mean more experienced or more representation. A number of other groups have evaluated the question of how lawyers’ services are priced, and the reading would surprise most consumers.

One benefit to lawyers is that they’re able to take some of the weight out of whatever legal problem you’re experiencing. Most lawyers didn’t get into the profession to get rich – they became lawyers to help people. When they take on a case, the case isn’t finished until all of the issues have been permanently resolved.

Stress and Time as Factors

As this post entitled “The Truth Behind Attorney Fees” emphasizes, being a lawyer is accompanied by extra long work weeks or extra amounts of stress. For many attorneys, both of these are true, and not all of them are great at managing both successfully. There are a small few who excel at it, but everyone experiences burnout, and this success can’t last forever. After all, we’re only human.
In general, longer hours worked results in more money charged.  Similarly, more stressful cases means more money charged. Although it may be expensive, if you find the right attorney, it’s more than worth it. For Justie Nicol, a founding attorney here at the Colorado Lawyer Team, she notes that her flat rate cases are not usually the most stressful. In reflecting on this stress, she says:
“I know what it takes to do a DUI after supervising younger prosecutors and training tons of DA’s how to prosecute those cases.  I once tried a DUI with ten minutes’ notice.  I didn’t even have a jacket with me that day.  I feel comfortable offering a flat rate on those cases because I know what is expected of me.  I know how to manage client’s expectations, and I know generally how much time it will take.”

Clients Expect to Pay More for Better Lawyers

One thing clients should realize is that you get what you pay for. If you hire a younger attorney with less experience, it’ll be cheaper, but you may not find the dedication, experience, and success that you’re looking for. Everything comes at a cost when you prioritize price over quality. Similarly, the opposite can be said: if you hire a senior attorney at a large firm, you’re paying the expensive price for the well-known firm, but not necessarily the work that’s going to be done there. Many times, the senior partner is not devoting personal attention to your case until it’s time to meet face to face.
Additionally, the partners, associates, and essentially anyone with a law degree, have billable hour requirements.  These are set at a certain number of hours that they work on any given day at their standard rate in order to “keep the firm afloat.” Firms typically bill in tenth of an hour increments.  For example, an email that takes 2 minutes to send is billed at 6 minutes because that’s the smallest increment.  This is standard in the legal industry, and is something that a lot of law firms still do today.
An important the thing about bigger and mid-sized firms is that they all have to meet a quota, and often more than 40 hours per week is billed. Unfortunately, some lawyers care more about meeting their quota than they do about your case. The quota is necessary for them to keep their jobs, but your case probably isn’t.
So, maybe you should look into a firm or a lawyer that has no or little overhead and no billable hour requirements (or at least reasonable ones, not more than 40 hours per week). If a firm can keep it’s costs down, surely it can help you afford your own legal costs. A firm or a lawyer practicing with little to no overhead is more likely to be able to give you a discount if you cannot afford their fees.

Need Legal Help?

Looking for legal representation? Not sure if hiring an attorney is the right thing for you? Consider reaching out to our attorneys here at the Colorado Lawyer Team for a free 30-minute consultation. With specialties in family law and criminal law, our experienced, dedicated, and hard-working attorneys may just be the representation you need! Find more information at or call 970.670.0378.

Interested in learning more about the law? Check out some of our previous blog posts like Economic Stressors and Divorce and Domestic Violence Cases and Child Custody.

IMPORTANT DISCLAIMER: This blog post does not create an attorney-client relationship. It’s a blog post and not legal advice. Each case is different, and this post is meant for generalized knowledge, only. If you haven’t signed an engagement letter (or even received an engagement letter) AND issued some form of payment (peanuts do not count), then no attorney-client relationship exists. Nevertheless, we will do our best to ensure your confidentiality should you choose to contact us privately, but do not post about your case in the comments here (because reaching out for help with your case should be confidential, damn it).

If you have done both of the things mentioned earlier–signed a letter and paid us–then, and only then, you might be a client. But merely chatting with us online does not a client make. Suffice it to say, if you aren’t absolutely certain about whether or not an attorney-client relationship exists between yourself and the Colorado Lawyer Team, you should probably ask for some clarity. Until then, we’ll keep your secrets but we don’t formally represent you… YET.