What factors determine whether an hourly fee is reasonable?
Minneapolis Criminal Defense Attorney, James Johnson, discusses when an hourly fee is reasonable.
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That is a great question because hourly fees vary by municipality, by region, and it all depends. Locality is a big factor. Second, would be the experience of the attorney. And then, third, is the complexity of the case. Somebody who is handling jaywalking tickets is probably justifies a lower hourly rate than something that where they regularly represent manslaughter or murder charges and so forth.
So I’ve represented the gamut on seriousness but I also have 28 years since I began doing criminal work. I first started as a prosecutor and I’ve had over 24 criminal trials. And so does the attorney – they always say they’re in court all the time but are they court just to make appearances and plead their clients guilty or have they had jury trial experience? So I think experience is one thing you’re paying for.
There is a false notion though just because the hourly rate is higher must mean the attorney is better, not always the case. Again, somebody that’s in downtown Minneapolis may be charging $475.00 an hour and then someone in a rural county is charging two and a quarter. Depending on where the case, again, is venued one may be a better value that the other. And so I think a reasonable hourly fee also matches up with the client’s expectation. They may be somebody who makes $15.00 an hour and now they’re being asked to pay somebody $250.00 an hour how is that a fee? I think in order to determine whether it’s reasonable, you’ve got to ask about their experience, and also what they expect to accomplish in the case. Is the person somebody who you can trust their advice and then you have confidence in their ability to represent you?