Legal Insights / Fees / Hourly Rates and Litigation: how much is this going to cost me?

Hourly Rates and Litigation: how much is this going to cost me?

Jun 12 2023

Most people never become involved in litigation, and that’s a good thing. However, sometimes people find themselves in need of either pursuing a legal issue in the courts or defending one when they find themselves being sued.

Our legal system is not always user-friendly and more often than not the need to hire a lawyer arises. Wading into the prospect of hiring and paying a lawyer over the course of many weeks, months or even years of litigation, is a daunting task for anyone without the financial resources of a large corporation or institution.

The immediate question the common consumer has is “How much is this going to cost me?” The short answer is “It depends”. However, here are some, hopefully, helpful insights into the costs of legal services.

First and foremost, the cost of any lawsuit is always going to be directly proportionate to the amount of fight or resistance the opposing parties apply to each other.

The old expression “I want to hire a pit bull to represent me” is not necessarily the best approach to solving legal problems before the courts. In fact, aggressive and uncompromising lawyers can cost their clients far more financially than do lawyers who approach legal problems in a practical and results-oriented manner.

Every case has its strengths and weaknesses and it is the lawyer’s job, to identify both sides of the equation so the client can understand and make informed decisions down the road. Sound legal advice, properly followed, will almost always benefit the client financially.

The hourly rates lawyers charge vary significantly and are dependent upon the skill, experience and specialty of the particular lawyer. A more junior and inexperienced lawyer, for example, will have a considerably lower hourly rate than the gray-haired senior partner in the corner office, for obvious reasons.

At RDM, we have a range of hourly rates from $150 per hour for articled students to as high as $600 per hour for the most senior and experienced lawyers. Most of our lawyers charge out at between $200 and $450 per hour.

Choosing the right lawyer for your legal problem is one that you will explore in the consultation process. Our goal, no matter who is assisting you, is to handle your matter as efficiently and effectively as possible keeping in mind your desired outcomes.

The lawyer and the client will need to discuss a number of factors, including the amount of money involved, the complexity of the dispute in question and the level of specialty or experience required of the lawyer. Another valid consideration is the importance of the issues to the client.

There are various stages of any lawsuit beginning with the first meeting and taking of instructions, to the investigation stage, moving on to the drafting of court documents that are known as “pleadings”, to the discovery process where documents must be examined and pretrial examinations for discovery are conducted. The end of the process is, ultimately, the trial itself. Going through to the very end of the trial process is always the most expensive option. That is, the cost can easily get to $10,000 per day of trial.

A client should not hesitate to ask their lawyer for a litigation budget including the expected cost at each anticipated stage of a potential lawsuit. Having this information in advance will allow you to manage your expectations and give you some perspective of the overall picture when it comes to your return on investment and desired outcome.

If you have questions about the cost of legal services for whatever issue you may have, please don’t hesitate to contact us at RDM Lawyers LLP to speak to a member of our team.

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