Lawyers typically charge for their time (typically a hourly rate) regardless of whether they win a case. Sometimes, the losing party is ordered to pay the other party’s lawyer fees on top of their own. Some lawyers also work on contingency, meaning they will take a percentage of the awarded amount only if they successfully win the case.
Before hiring a lawyer, make sure you understand their fee structure.
Immigration lawyers help their clients through all phases of the immigration process. Experts on immigration law, they are legally qualified to represent U.S. citizens, permanent residents or undocumented immigrants. Immigration lawyers also provide assistance to visitors here on student, work or travel visas, and can represent clients who may have an expired visa or who have overstayed their visa.
You can hire an immigration lawyer to assist you with petitioning for renewing a permanent resident or green card, navigating the naturalization process, submitting an employee-based petition for a work visa, filing a petition for a family member, or representing you or a loved one who is facing detention or deportation, as well as replacing, extending or changing a current visa, green card or work permit. The immigration process is highly complex, with multiple hearings, paperwork and requirements. Hiring a legal expert to represent you can help you make your best effort in the process. When researching immigration lawyers, it is very important to verify their qualifications and find a reputable attorney. Read reviews and verify that the immigration lawyer is licensed by your state before paying any fees.
A real estate lawyer represents their client’s best interest in all matters related to the sale, purchase and ownership of real estate. They are experts in real estate law. In states that require a real estate lawyer to close home sales, the lawyer must review and finalize all documents before the deal can be legally completed. Real estate lawyers also help clients legally protect their rights when entering, exiting or renegotiating a real estate deal. You can hire a real estate lawyer as an individual or as a business. A real estate lawyer can help with negotiation, addressing mortgage fraud, managing foreclosures and bankruptcy, transfers of titles and deeds, property ownership disputes, zoning issues, creating a co-ownership contract for joint purchase of a property, and much more. Real estate lawyers can also protect you from issues that result when a known problem was not properly disclosed by the previous owner. Overall, real estate lawyers are an added cost when it comes to buying and selling property, but they also ensure your best interests are met, and that you and the people you are doing business with comply with the law.
A personal injury lawyer fights on your behalf if you’ve been injured physically, psychologically, economically or in reputation. This injury may be the result of neglect or malicious intent of another person, or it could be at the hands of a business, government or other entity. Personal injury lawyers specialize in tort law, which is the law of civil wrongs like car accidents, company wrongdoing, unlawful imprisonment and more.
To become qualified to be a personal injury lawyer in the United States, a person must earn a bachelor’s degree, followed by a Doctor of Jurisprudence degree from a law school. Most states then require the person to pass the bar exam to become licensed to practice law. Unlike many attorneys who require a retainer, personal injury lawyers often work on contingency fees. This means that in lieu of payment upfront, they receive an agreed-upon percentage of the settlement in case of a win.
No one likes talking about death, but it’s better than leaving your children or siblings to sort out your estate. A clearly planned will can make the time of mourning easier for everyone. An estate attorney will develop a legal will, create trusts on your behalf, and ensure the proper execution of your estate after you pass away.
Family attorneys and estate attorneys, also called probate and wills attorneys, can each prepare wills. The type of lawyer best suited to prepare your will depends on your situation. Most family attorneys provide services to prepare basic wills, including bequeathing property and personal items to family or naming a guardian for minor children. However, estate attorneys specialize in preparing wills in more complex situations. Consider hiring an estate attorney if you:
- Have a large number of assets, especially those subject to estate taxes
- Want to create a trust, such as allowing a spouse to live in your home until he or she dies and then leaving it to your children, or set up long-term care for a beneficiary
- Have an ownership stake in a business
- Expect someone to contest your will
- Want to disinherit your spouse
A personal injury lawyer will advocate for your legal rights if you’ve been hurt in an accident at work or in daily life, have suffered from medical malpractice, or are struggling to have your insurance carrier cover your needs. It may be helpful to talk with two or three lawyers before selecting one. When looking for a personal injury lawyer, research their reviews and make sure former clients have had good experiences with them. Next, make sure the personal injury lawyer has experience and proven success winning cases similar to yours. Confirm that the lawyer is licensed to provide services in your state. When you find a qualified personal injury lawyer with whom you want to work, freely discuss payment and fees before any work begins. Most lawyers offer a free consultation to learn what your case is about and explain their rates. Personal injury attorneys typically receive a percentage of your settlement (called a contingency fee), so they are paid after the trial or case is complete. Keep in mind that some attorneys have fees that you must pay even if you don’t win your trial. It’s important to understand these details before work begins so you don’t have any unhappy surprises later. Lastly, it’s wise to choose a personal injury lawyer that you have confidence in and with whom you can communicate openly and honestly.
If buying or selling property feels overwhelming and the thought of finding a good real estate lawyer seems daunting, you’re in luck. There are some simple steps to follow for finding a trustworthy, affordable real estate lawyer to help with your property and legal needs.
- Determine what kind of real estate lawyer you need. Many states require a real estate attorney to handle sale closing documents. For more complex matters such as a real estate deal gone awry or foreclosure, you’ll want to find an attorney who has successfully handled cases like yours.
- Look for online reviews of real estate lawyers in your area. Verify that they have proven experience closing or winning cases like yours and that they are in good standing with the state bar association.
- Choose two or three lawyers to interview. Many offer a free consultation to learn about your case and provide information about rates. For standard real estate closing services, in-depth interviewing might not be necessary.
- Ask about their rates and whether they charge by the hour or provide services for a flat fee. Ask whether a retainer is required, and what the total bill should be for a case like yours.
- Ask for a write-up of the services that will be covered by the projected costs.
- Make sure you like the real estate agent and they treat you with respect. Confirm whether they or another person will be working on your case and make sure you’re comfortable with all members of their team.
- Pay the retainer and hire your lawyer.
Research is key to finding a good immigration lawyer. The immigration process can be overwhelming and complex, so a trustworthy advocate is critical. When you have identified several eligible candidates, verify their immigration law license to protect yourself and your finances. Once you have a set of licensed immigration lawyers in mind, choose one based on these considerations:
- Mutual respect: You want an immigration lawyer who treats you and your family with kindness and consideration. You’ll do the same for them.
- Availability: Before hiring, note if they have responded promptly to your emails and calls. You don’t want to hire someone you have to chase around.
- Proven success: Read former client reviews and research their success rate with cases similar to yours.
- Transparent rates: Ask directly about what their rates are, how they bill, and what they estimate your legal fees will be. Ask if they will sign a fee agreement, and get receipts for all fees paid.
- Verify who will handle your case: Sometimes junior lawyers work on firm cases. This is okay, as long as you have discussed it and are comfortable with it. When junior lawyers or paralegals are working on your case, ask if the hourly rate is lower.
- Be wary of anyone who promises you specific results: No case is certain, and the immigration lawyer should be honest about what you can expect.
For more, check out our tips for smart hiring on Thumbtack.
Estate planning is an important part of financial planning, so it’s important to find the right attorney to prepare your will. Although most family attorneys can put together a basic will, you may want one who specializes in wills and estate planning, especially if you have a lot of assets or a dependent to take care of. You may need an attorney who has expertise in planning and executing trusts and a background in taxes. Ask how the attorney charges; some charge by the hour, others have a set fee for writing wills, and some charge a percentage of the total value of the estate. Make a list of several potential wills attorneys to interview. Make sure you make a strong personal connection with your attorney — you need to be comfortable telling him or her personal, confidential information about your life, and you need to feel that the attorney is committed to solving any problems that may arise while writing your will. Also find out how long the attorney has practiced estate law and whether he or she has handled wills similar to yours.
The cost of an estate plan depends largely on the number of parts it includes and the complexity of the documents. The most basic estate plan is simply a will, but it may also include designating power of attorney or a health care proxy to another person, writing a living will, or making a HIPAA authorization. The average national cost to make an estate plan ranges from $350 to $900, but can cost much more in complicated situations. For example, an estate attorney may charge only $900 to prepare a basic will providing outright distribution — meaning that property and assets are distributed upon death. Writing a more complicated will and holding assets in trusts can cost $3,000, or more. The process of creating an estate plan generally takes two to four weeks, starting with the initial consultation with the wills attorney to identify areas of concern in order to design an estate plan that fits your goals and budget. Once an estate plan is written, the attorney meets with the clients, a notary, and two neutral witnesses to review and sign the plan and associated documents.