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Hi, this is Stewart Albertson with Albertson & Davidson. And I want to talk to you about attorneys’ fees versus costs of a case. So there’s a distinction. You’ll generally get an engagement letter from a lawyer saying hey, you’re going to hire me to go in and contest a trust or a will, or whatever it is that you’re wanting to do. Maybe perhaps you’re brining a financial elder abuse claim. And you’re going to get this engagement letter. And part of that engagement letter is going to have some terms in it that say you’re responsible for the attorney’s fees and costs if you’re hiring a lawyer on an hourly basis. Or, if you’re hiring a lawyer on a contingent fee basis, they will describe the attorney’s fees that will front in the case but that what they will want reimbursed at the end of the case.
So if I haven’t totally confused you at this point, yet, let’s just talk about those two components. Attorney’s fees and costs. Attorney’s fees are what the attorney’s fees are. If you hire a lawyer at $300.00 an hour, those are the attorney’s fees on an hourly basis going forward. If your lawyer spends two hours on a project, it will be $600.00 in attorney’s fees.
Whereas if you hire your attorney on a contingency fee basis for 40% of the recovery of whatever it is they recover on your behalf. Let’s say they recover $100,000.00 for you under that contingency fee agreement. And it’s a 40% attorney’s fee. They would then – you do the math – 40%, 40% of a $100,000.00 would be $40,000.00 in attorney’s fees that would go to the lawyer and you would receive the remaining $60,000.00.
Ok, so we understand attorney’s fees. What are these costs? Are they in addition to attorney’s fees? Yes. The cost of the case are how much it costs from a specific standpoint, from an invoice standpoint to bring the case forward. If you do photocopies, let’s say it’s ten cents a page. That’s a cost. If you hire somebody to do your court reporting for you for depositions. That’s a cost. If you file the case with the civil court or the probate court and there’s a $450.00 or $500.00 filing fee. That’s a cost. And so that’s the distinction between attorney’s fees and costs. Costs are the hard costs to run the case that are everything but attorney’s fees. And attorney’s fees, that’s what you agree to pay either on an hourly basis or on a contingency fee basis.
And that’s how attorney’s fees and costs work.