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How Much Does an Illinois Bankruptcy Attorney Cost

The same financial burden that has you wanting to contact an Illinois bankruptcy attorney may also have you wondering how much a bankruptcy attorney costs. This article will explain how bankruptcy attorneys charge for their time.

Several factors influence a legal bill's bottom line, including:

  • The lawyer's preferred billing method
  • How much the lawyer charges within that billing method
  • How long it takes to wrap up your bankruptcy
  • The amount of related legal expenses, such as filing fees and the cost of credit counseling

The billing method an Illinois bankruptcy attorney uses is just as important as how much he or she charges. Bankruptcy attorneys in Illinois typically bill using one of two methods, either with an hourly fee or a flat fee.

No matter which billing method your attorney uses, you will probably have to pay additional legal expenses. Some of these expenses are likely to include:

  • Court fees
  • Trustee fees (a trustee is the person assigned to oversee the bankruptcy)
  • Consumer counseling fees
  • Photocopying
  • Attorney travel expenses
  • Paralegal fees

An attorney's rates can be negotiated. But any negotiating you want to do must be discussed before you hire someone. Once you've hired an Illinois bankruptcy lawyer, it is too late to renegotiate legal fees.

Hiring an Illinois Bankruptcy Attorney by the Hour

If you decide to hire an attorney who charges by the hour, you'll probably have to pay a retainer fee. This is a down payment for the legal services to come. You'll then receive monthly bills for the hours your Illinois bankruptcy lawyer worked on your filing.

Bankruptcy attorneys in Illinois who bill by the hour typically break the hour into either 15-minute or 6-minute increments. The difference can have a big impact on your monthly statement.

For example, say you talked to your lawyer by phone for five minutes. The lawyer who earns $400 an hour in 15-minute increments will charge you $100 for that call. A lawyer who earns the same amount per hour but breaks his or her time into 6-minute increments will only charge you $40 for the same 5-minute phone call.

How much an Illinois bankruptcy attorney charges by the hour is influenced by several factors:

  • The amount of experience the lawyer has
  • The lawyer's location (lawyers in Chicago, for example, may change more than those in Peoria)
  • The complexity of the legal matter (simple filings will cost less than complicated ones)
  • The cost of overhead in running the firm or office

You shouldn't make the mistake of thinking that a lawyer who charges a higher rate will necessarily end up costing you more. An experienced lawyer who costs more might work more quickly, saving you money.

Hiring an Illinois Bankruptcy Lawyer for a Flat Fee

Lawyers who handle fairly routine matters, such as writing a will and filing bankruptcies, may offer their services for a flat fee. Many times, the flat fee does not include court fees and other related costs. If you are interested in hiring an Illinois bankruptcy lawyer for a flat fee, make sure you understand what is and is not included in the price.

The specifics about when and how you will pay your flat fee can vary from lawyer to lawyer. Ask your attorney what payment options you have.

In addition, flat fees usually are not refundable. This means that if you change your mind about filing bankruptcy or want to switch lawyers, you will not get your money returned. If you have any doubts, discuss this before hiring an attorney on a flat fee.

The Cost of Hiring an Illinois Bankruptcy Attorney

It's probably obvious to you now that you have to ask a lot of questions before you hire an Illinois bankruptcy attorney. Here are some suggestions to get the ball rolling on this very important topic;

  • Do you charge a flat fee or by the hour?
  • What does your flat fee or hourly fee cover? What is not included?
  • Can you give me an estimate for the other expenses I will have to pay?
  • How open are you to negotiating your fee?
  • If I pay a flat fee, what are my payment options? Is it refundable if I decide not to go through with the bankruptcy filing?

As soon as you know the answers to these questions, then you'll know how much it costs to hire an Illinois bankruptcy attorney.