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The Outrageous Hourly Rates of Attorneys
Finally, the government is looking into the outrageous fees that attorney's charge clients for their help. What prompted this were the recent motions submitted by firms in a bankruptcy case for attorney fees. The judge also flipped when he saw $1000\hr fees being charged to clients. It is about time attorneys are regulated in the fees they charge. Yes, we all know it is specialized knowledge, but many self-help books solve the similar issues. Many paralegals are equal in legal knowledge of attorneys in Family Law, Evictions, simple bankruptcy, Wills and other legal areas. Many times what the attorney will do is charge you $200\hr and have the paralegal do most of the work for $25 hr. and the only thing he does is look it over and sign it. Attorneys will charge you even for a 10 minute consultation, so at a rate of $200 an hour, they charge around $30 for this 10 minute call. Odds are, you will not get a lot resolved in that time.
Why are attorney fees so high? Because there is no regulation agency overlooking them. Most attorneys want payback for the years of going to law school, so they overvalue their services on people who really cannot afford them, yet have no other choice. Some are unethical and use legalese to scare you during a consultation by being vague, when all along, they know from experience, the situation will most likely not occur. Why do attorney's charge thousands to go to court? Because they actually have to make an appearance. That is what they claim, so you $1500 for them to go to a hearing that might last less than 10 minutes, or if a trial, considerable time. If the latter is the case, the more likely cost is $5000. But again, most of the work is done by paralegals and investigators, all being paid far less than whatever the attorney is making. Even some of the legal research is done by paralegals and many are equal to those of attorneys. Legal research is skill learned by both and knowing where to find law relating to your own case. Attorneys usually tend not to trust anyone else doing legal research for motions and such.
Like any career, even law has its routine situations where boilerplate forms are spit out from the computer, blanks filled in. All done by clerical or paralegals and the attorney simply signs his name. There are many boilerplate motions used that are tweaked to fit a specific case, that once one has done them, no great skill is needed. There are many of these types in all areas of the law and in these cases, the attorney acts as a reviewer, signs it, and has their staff file it with the court.
But, an attorney who charges $1000 an hour should be investigated and reprimanded. I would say even those charging more than $200 an hour are not earning this. They are just ripping you off and they can get away with it. No different than a VW mechanic at a dealership earning $120 hr. In this case, the mechanic makes $30 hr. and the dealer gets the rest.