Now we get to the heart of the stereotype: You might get the legal solution you were looking for, but by then you'll be living in a refrigerator box.
Legal fees vary widely, based on specialty and type of law firm. A partner in a downtown legal powerhouse in a big city will probably cost more than an associate in a suburban office townhouse. By the hour, legal fees can range from about $75 to $300 and up.
Of course, hourly rates aren't the only way to bill. Some lawyers will charge a flat fee, usually for simpler, more predictable items like an uncomplicated will.
Cases taken "on contingency" mean you don't pay the lawyer up-front; the typical 20-40% fee comes out of the recovery. This is how personal injury cases are usually handled and is by far the best -- since it means there's no upfront expense and the law firm has an incentive to work efficiently and win the case.
Others will ask for a retainer,
a deposit against which upcoming expenses can be drawn. Retainers
range from the fee for several hours to thousands of dollars.
A tip: ask that you be contacted when your retainer is-say-
75% gone. This prevents unpleasant surprises and gives you more
control over continuing to fund the legal coffers.
Be sure you understanding how your prospective attorney bills, and get an estimate of the hours it will take to resolve your situation. Be aware that hours can be spend on negotiating and hammering out the terms of a settlement offer, which can seem like "hidden time," but is crucial to crafting an agreement you can live with.