Attorneys, lawyers, who are they? Why do they charge so much?
Very few people ever hire an attorney. It’s been reported that only 1 person in 10 will use an attorney for any purpose. Why? I don’t know for sure, but I think it’s because most folks don’t know an attorney well enough to understand how they tick. Allow me to tell you a few things about attorneys.
First, in the United States, an attorney is a lawyer and a lawyer is an attorney; there is absolutely no difference.
- Second, attorneys are professionals. That means that they are paid for what they do. Just like plumbers, electricians, secretaries, teachers, and you. To be a professional means that you take what you do seriously and when someone pays you to do a job, you take pride in doing it right. It’s not complicated.
- Third, attorneys are licensed professionals. Professionals that are licensed must apply to the government and meet certain requirements in order to practice; that is, in order to offer their services to the public for a fee. Also, once they are licensed, professionals are regulated by the government and probably have to meet certain requirements to continue to hold their licenses, such as taking classes to maintain and improve their knowledge and skills.
- Fourth, an attorney who offers a service to you (an individual consumer) is a business person. He or she is just like your doctor or the guy who comes to your door offering to mow your lawn; trying to make a living. It's a business with certain expenses, the most important of which is the business owner's house payment, car payment, buy groceries and clothes for the family. After that, the lawyer may still be paying for an expensive education or for educating his or her children. And, like all businesses, there are fixed costs associated with maintaining an office, like rent, utilities, advertising, payroll, etc.
So, I know what you’re thinking. Lawyers charge $100s per hour and require large retainers and live in big houses and drive really nice cars! Yes, some lawyers do, but most do not. Lawyers live in the same world as you, and they are subject to the laws of supply and demand too. When there has been a bumper crop of Alberta peaches, the price is low; when there has been a drought, the price is high. When there are too many lawyers in town, the cost of legal services drops and competition is very keen. If there are not enough clients for all those lawyers, the cost of legal services falls just like the price of a peach. If a lawyer can’t charge enough to pay basic expenses, he or she finds another line of work.
A lawyer who chooses to represent you in a bankruptcy must pay the costs of being in business and take home enough to live. If the attorney is charging a competitive fee (shop around, you'll find out what that is), then you must choose your attorney based on other important factors; for a list of those factors, see my article "How Much Will I Pay for a Chapter 7?" Also, review my fee policies.
Call (720) 371-9623 or (719) 220-0398
Email me. I'm an experienced bankruptcy attorney. Do you have bankruptcy questions? Go ahead, ask! I’m here to offer bankruptcy HELP. Helping to Educate you on bankruptcy Laws, and the Practical solutions to getting a fresh start.
The statements of law made here are general statements of law, effective at the time published and subject to change from time to time. These statements are not intended, nor may they be construed, to be applicable to any particular set of factual circumstances nor to any particular person. I recommend that all readers seek the assistance and advice of an experienced bankruptcy lawyer for guidance in their particular circumstances.
© Copyright 2013 David C. Hoskins, licensed Colorado lawyer