Many people will need a lawyer at some point, whether for something big like a criminal case or something more simple like putting together a contract. But how much does a lawyer cost? There’s no simple answer to this question, as lawyer costs can vary depending on factors such as fee structures, the type of case, and the lawyer’s experience. This article will explore these factors and how they help determine how much lawyers cost.

Attorney Cost Structures

There are four main cost structures attorneys use when charging clients. Understanding these fee schedules will help you know exactly what you’ll be expected to pay and when.


Hourly rate is the most common way for lawyers to bill their clients. When lawyers use an hourly rate agreement, they bill clients based on their time working on the case. For accurate hourly billing, lawyers must keep careful records of all the time they spend reviewing files, working on documents, presenting in court, and all other tasks needed for the case.

Lawyers will discuss their hourly rates before beginning any work on the case. Because hourly rates depend on the time spent throughout the whole case, clients will know the final cost once the case is resolved.

Flat Fee

Lawyers sometimes charge a flat fee for specific, well-designed legal cases, such as immigration, trademarks and patents, wills, and divorces. Clients are usually required to pay flat fees upfront before the lawyer begins any work. Flat fee rates benefit clients because they know how much they’ll be charged upfront without surprise fees.

Retainer Fees

It’s common for lawyers to require a retainer fee, which is essentially a down payment on a case. Retainer fees act as a guarantee of service from the lawyer. Lawyers deduct their costs from your payment and send periodic invoices showing the deductions as they work on your case. Retainer fees are usually non-refundable.

Contingency Fees

Lawyers use contingency fees in civil cases where monetary settlement is the goal. These cases include insurance claims, debt collection, medical malpractice, or personal injury. With a contingency fee schedule, clients don’t pay until the lawyer resolves the case. Once settled, the lawyer gets a set percentage of the settlement money, typically 25% to 40%.

Contingency fees are prohibited for divorces and criminal cases under ABA rules.

Factors That Impact How Much Lawyer Fees Cost

It’s impossible to say how much a lawyer will cost without meeting them first because the cost can be affected by several factors. The most important factors are the case type, the lawyer’s experience, and the case’s complexity.

Type of Case

Your case type is essential in determining the cost of legal fees. A lawyer’s fees for a case will typically be higher if it involves a specialized area of law. For example, lawyers who handle less serious misdemeanor crimes like petty theft will cost less than lawyers specializing in capital murder cases.

Attorney Experience

Experienced lawyers with a proven track record will charge more than lawyers who are just starting. They’re in higher demand and offer more knowledge based on their experience.

Case Complexity

Complex cases involve more time and skill to resolve. They can include hours of research, meetings, and interviews, which can increase the total cost. The more complex a case and the more work it involves, the more an attorney will charge.

How Much Does a Lawyer Cost?

Lawyer fees typically range from $100 to $400 per hour in the United States. These rates depend on the required law specialization and the lawyer’s experience. Other factors can determine the cost, such as how many court appearances will be necessary, case complexity, and the rates of other lawyers in the area.

How Much Are Attorney Fees in Different Cities?

In Texas, lawyers typically cost between $159 and $433 per hour. Below is a list of average price ranges in major cities throughout Texas.

Austin: $200 to $450 per hour

Houston: $240 to $550 per hour

San Antonio: $225 to $400 per hour

Dallas: $220 to $620 per hour

Fort Worth: $220 to $600 per hour

Do I Have to Pay to Talk to a Lawyer?

Before you hire an attorney, you need to have a consultation. Some lawyers offer free consultations, but others charge you for an hour based on their hourly rate. Once hired, the cost of speaking to your lawyer will depend on the fee structure. With hourly rate arrangements, lawyers charge clients for phone conversations, meetings, and emails. With flat fee structures, clients don’t pay extra money to speak with their attorneys.

Is It Expensive to Hire an Attorney?

How much lawyers cost ultimately depends on your type of case, and sometimes it can get expensive. Some cases are resolved quickly and won’t require a lot of your lawyer’s time, while others take more time and research for lawyers. Whatever your legal matter, you must decide whether an experienced attorney will be worth their potential cost.

Find an Austin Attorney

If you need a personal injury lawyer, check out Lee, Gober & Reyna. We promise to put your best interest first and will help you get the compensation you deserve. Visit our website to learn more, or contact us today to schedule a free consultation.