If you have found yourself in need of an attorney, you may be confused about how the legal system works. Questions about who pays for the legal fees in a lawsuit are not always easily answered. Also, the type of work that your attorney will be doing makes a difference in how he or she gets paid.
For routine legal services like drafting wills, making real estate purchases or setting up financial trusts, it is customary to pay a set amount to your lawyer as a retainer. As the lawyer completes work, known as billable hours, the fees are deducted from this retainer. When it runs out, you may receive a bill for the shortfall. In other cases, you will be asked to submit another retainer.
Many attorneys advertise that they can represent a client in simple lawsuits or criminal cases for a set fee. Some examples of this type of work include uncontested divorce cases and DUI charges. If this is your situation, the lawyer will probably ask for the entire amount up front before beginning any work on your behalf.
One other type of situation is when you are suing someone in civil court. You may be suing for liability, in which your injury was the fault of another party, or to recoup money owed to you. In these cases, you may be able to ask the judge to award the winning party his or legal fees. In this situation, the loser of the lawsuit will be paying both attorneys. Finally, if your lawyer believes you have a good chance of winning lawsuit for damages, he may take your case for a percentage of what the court awards you.