How to Fight Excessive Attorney Fees

The cost of hiring a lawyer is a big expense, and legal fees have risen at a rate nearly twice that of inflation over the last two decades. The trend seems unlikely to slow down, even in an economy as weak as today’s. While most attorneys charge their clients fairly, some cases result in hefty fees after incompetent lawyering, purposeful padding of bills, ethical violations, or even coerced collections. If you believe your lawyer has over-billed you, here are some tips for how to fight excessive attorney fees.

One way to fight excessive attorney fees is to seek a fee reduction through a fee dispute. If the attorney does not agree to reduce or refund the fee amount, you can request a hearing to determine the amount of the attorney’s fees. If the judge rules that the fees were excessive, the attorney may be ordered to refund part of the fees. If you cannot afford to hire an attorney who charges excessive fees, you may consider using a fee-shifting statute.

Before hiring an attorney, discuss the fee structure and billing policy. Ask your attorney to explain the terms of their fee structure so that you’re not stuck with a bill that surprises you. In addition, ask to see the billing records to determine whether there are any instances where the attorney billed you for work that was not done. Also, review the description of the services he provided and compare it to the rate you were charged. For example, if your attorney claims to be an expert in a certain area, he may be billing you for time that you’ve spent only researching.

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