Hourly Rate Fee Agreements Between Attorney and Client

Learn about hourly rate fee agreements between an attorney and a client

Hourly rate fee agreements do not have to be complicated.

The hourly rate agreement should be well written, easy to follow and the attorney should provide the client time to carefully review it and ask questions.

On this page, we will provide you with an overview of hourly rate fee agreements in family law cases.

At the end, we offer you additional links and reading on fee agreements between an attorney and a client.

How much are typical hourly rates for attorneys?

Hourly rates typically range from $250-$300 per hour on the lower end and as much as $600 or more per hour on the higher end. Our experience is most family law firms have cookie-cutter rates for all types of cases rather than customize rates for individual cases.

For example, our family law firm does not charge the same rate for every kind of case. If the case is especially complex and will be very time intensive, the hourly rate will likely be higher than a case that is simple and far less time intensive.

Our firm's hourly rates for attorneys range between $300 per hour to $450 per hour. Our hourly rates for non-attorneys ranges between $100-$200 per hour. Hourly rates are mostly based on the case's complexity and necessary time commitment.  

The fee agreement may also include rates for non-attorneys 

These rates can also be different depending on the non-attorney’s title and experience.

Hourly rate agreements should be in writing

Hourly rate fee agreements must be in writing if the attorney expects the fees will meet or exceed $1000. Some hourly rate agreements are specific and detailed.

We believe these agreements should be both specific and detailed so the agreement answers the great majority of any client's questions. Our family law firm has reviewed retainer agreements by other lawyers and I am rarely impressed by the specificity or detail the other fee agreements provide. It is no wonder clients represented by those lawyers are often confused by that attorney’s billing practices.

Hourly rate fee agreements also typically contain a section for a retainer deposit

This retainer deposit also depends on the case's complexity. For example, the case that requires urgent attention and urgent work may include a higher initial retainer deposit while a case without urgent work may require a lesser deposit.

Let us use an example. If the retainer deposit on a case is $5,000, then that $5,000 is typically set aside in the client-trust account. Think of the client-trust account like a piggie bank where the retainer deposit goes. As the attorney or law firm work on the case and bill for their time, they will deduct money for their billing from that client-trust account. The client should receive an itemized statement of the billing and how much is deducted from the client-trust account. A client typically receives this statement once per month. 

Want to learn more about the different types of fee agreements?

We provide you with additional reading, below.