We hear this a lot. And we get it. Many people can’t afford to pay hundreds of dollars an hour for legal help. The good news is that in a lot of cases you don’t have to.

For many kinds of Illinois legal cases, your lawyer’s fee will be a percentage of what you recover in the end. There are no up front or out-of-pocket costs. This type of arrangement is called a contingency fee. It’s good news to people who are looking for legal recourse but don’t have a lot of cash on hand. It makes a “big time lawyer” accessible to anyone.

If you are injured, you likely have a case where you would pay a contingency fee. Your lawsuit, if you choose to file one, would be for damages. It’s your lawyer’s job to prove the amount of your damages and recover money for you to pay for your legal bills, any time that you were unable to work and even compensation for your pain and suffering.

Injury cases are the most common type of contingency fee case, including medical malpractice, workers’ compensation, nursing home abuse and other personal injuries. In these cases, you might settle for a certain amount, or go to trial and have a judge or jury determine what you will be awarded. Your lawyer would then get a portion, as their fee.

On the other hand, if you have a case where you aren’t suing for a sum of money, then you should expect to pay an hourly fee, or in some cases a flat fee (for more routine legal work, like writing a will, for example). In these cases, the big time lawyer might not be an option for you. In a divorce, for example, you’ll probably be more concerned with what your lawyer charges than you would in an injury case. You’ll also have to put down a retainer, which is usually a couple thousand dollars. Your lawyer will take their fee from the retainer as they do the work.

The bottom line is that before you decide you can’t hire a large law firm downtown, know what kind of fee your lawyer is going to charge. In a contingency fee case, it’s not going to be that different; most lawyers – big and small – charge about 1/3. Plus, you don’t have to pay anything until your case is over. And if you lose, there is no fee.

Don’t assume you can’t afford the attorney you want. Give us a call. We will talk to you for free and explain legal fees, whether you need a big firm, and other aspects of hiring an Illinois lawyer. Our goal is for you to learn about all of your options.