Many attorneys and clients have a hard time talking about fees, even though they are very concerned about them. Attorneys want to get paid to cover their overhead, education costs, and make a living, clients want to know what cases will cost, and keep their costs under control. As with all tough subjects, talking about the issue up front is always better than trying to sweep it under the rug.

For starters, it is good to know what fees are, what costs are, and the different types of fees. Fees are money paid directly to the attorney for legal work done by the attorney, and any associate attorneys or staff who performed legal work on the case. Fees come in three types, hourly rate fees, where the fee is based on the amount of time put into the case, flat fees, where the client pays a set fee for handling the case, regardless of how long the work takes, and contingent fees, where the client pays a percentage of money won in a lawsuit to the attorney. Different types of cases usually involve different fee arrangements, criminal law and bankruptcy almost always involve flat fees, family court matters and most civil disputes usually involve hourly rates, and cases where large amounts of money are asked for, injury and car accident cases use contingent fees.

Costs are money paid to others besides the lawyer, court filing fees, subpoena fees, expert witness fees, for example.

Whatever fee arrangement you and your attorney use, it is good to talk about it up front, and get any questions answered.