How Much Does a New York Bankruptcy Lawyer Cost
If you've found yourself in over your head financially and are thinking about hiring a bankruptcy lawyer, then you're also probably wondering how much a lawyer costs. This article will explain how a New York bankruptcy lawyer charges for his or her time.
Your legal bill is influenced by several factors, including:
- The billing method your lawyer prefers
- How much the lawyer charges within that billing method
- How long it takes to finalize your bankruptcy
- How much you will pay in other related legal expenses, such as court filing fees
When determining how much you will pay, the billing method a New York bankruptcy lawyer uses is just as important as how much he or she charges. Bankruptcy attorneys in New York typically use one of two billing methods: Either an hourly fee or a flat rate.
Regardless of which billing method your lawyer prefers, you are likely to have additional expenses on top of the lawyer's fees. These can include:
- New York Bankruptcy Court fees
- Trustee fees (a trustee is the person assigned to oversee your bankruptcy)
- Consumer counseling fees
- Your lawyer's travel expenses
- Photocopying costs
- Paralegal time
You can attempt to negotiate a lower fee with a New York bankruptcy lawyer. However, if you want to negotiate, you must ask for this before you hire the lawyer. Once you have hired someone, it is too late to renegotiate the fees.,/p>
Hiring a New York Bankruptcy Attorney by the Hour
Whether you are from Brooklyn or Albany or any other part of the state, if you decide to hire an attorney by the hour, you will probably have to pay a retainer fee, which is like a down payment. From then on, you'll likely receive monthly statements for the hours your lawyer worked on your filing.
New York bankruptcy lawyers who charge an hourly fee typically break down the hour into either 15-minute or 6-minute increments. That may sound like a small difference, but it adds up.
Take, for example, a 5-minute phone call. A lawyer who charges $200 an hour in 15-minute increments will want $50 for that 5-minute conversations, while a lawyer who charges $200 an hour in 6-minute increments will want only $20.
How a lawyer comes up with an hourly fee is based on several factors, including:
- The amount of experience he or she has
- His or her location
- The complexity of the legal matters tended to
- The costs to run his or her law office
Don't make the mistake of assuming that just because a lawyer charges more, you'll end up paying more. A more experienced lawyer who charges more may be more efficient, saving you time and money.
Hiring a New York Bankruptcy Lawyer for a Flat Fee
Attorneys who handle routine matters, such as writing a will or filing bankruptcies, sometimes charge one flat fee instead of billing hourly. If you decide to hire a New York bankruptcy attorney for a flat fee, you should be clear on what's included and what is not. Often, related legal expenses, such as court filing fees, are not included.
How your flat fee is broken down and when it's due can vary from attorney to attorney. Be sure to ask an attorney you are interested in hiring for payment plan options.
Finally, flat fees are usually not refundable. This means if you change your mind about filing for bankruptcy, or you'd like to switch to a new lawyer midway through the process, you will not get your money back. If you have any doubts, be sure to discuss them with your lawyer before you agree to hire him or her.
The Cost of Hiring a New York Bankruptcy Attorney
As you can now see, you should ask a number of questions about legal fees and expenses while interviewing lawyers to hire. Here are some questions to ask that should help you get a handle on how much it may cost to file bankruptcy:
- Do you charge by the hour or a flat fee?
- What does your hourly or flat fee include? What is not included?
- What other expenses will I have to pay on top of your legal fee? Can you give me an estimate for them?
- Is there any room for negotiating a lower fee?
- If I pay a flat fee, what are my payment options? Is the fee refundable?
When you get the answers to these questions, you'll know exactly how much it costs to hire a New York bankruptcy lawyer.