Average hourly fees for attorneys in New Jersey are based on the years of experience they have. The types of court cases attorneys have previously won also influence the hourly rates they charge. Furthermore, although attorneys can generally set their own rates, they are not allowed to charge clients exorbitant hourly fees.
Average Hourly Rate
New Jersey Divorce Mediation reports that the average hourly rate attorneys in the state charge ranged from $225 to $500 an hour as of 2009. Actual rates that attorneys charge depend on where the attorneys' offices are located in the state. Additionally, Keith Vercammen and Associates states that, as of 2010, attorneys in New Jersey generally charge rates between $250 and $375 an hour. Attorneys also charge their clients retainer fees. Retainer fees are advanced payments that are generally set according to hourly fees attorneys charge for cases; they can range from several hundred to several thousand dollars, depending on the expected time it will take to work the case. For example, if an attorney charges $400 an hour and they are working on a criminal case that is expected to require 200 hours of work time they might charge their client a percentage of the $80,000 total bill upfront.
If New Jersey attorneys do not charge their clients fees unless they win their court cases, the fees are referred to as contingency fees, according to the American Bar Association. Cases were contingency fees are typically applied are workers compensation and personal injury cases. With contingency fees, attorneys are generally paid a portion of the money won in court cases. For example, if an attorney wins a medical malpractice suit, she might receive a third of the money that she wins for her client in court. Although clients might have to pay court filing expenses, they generally are not responsible for paying their New Jersey attorney if they lose their case. In instances where attorneys are able to win or settle legal cases without going to court, clients can meet with their attorneys to discuss lowering the percentage of the contingency fee the attorneys receive.
Hourly and Annual Wages
There were nearly 20,260 attorneys working in New Jersey as of May 2009. The median hourly wage for New Jersey attorneys was $53.29, according to the United States Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics. The mean or average hourly wage that attorneys earned in the state was $60.37, while attorneys earned an annual salary of about $125,560.
The Bureau expects jobs for attorneys across the country to grow by 13 percent from 2008 through 2018. Increasing numbers of health care, bankruptcy and environmental lawsuits are expected to drive some of the growth. Furthermore, many attorneys across the nation and in New Jersey who are employed by corporations, businesses and government organizations work on a salary basis. Attorneys who relocate to other states and who work across industries can increase their chances of landing jobs.
People who hire the services of New Jersey attorneys and feel that the attorneys charged them exorbitant rates can file a complaint with the state's Supreme Court. Complaints are filed to the court through local district ethics committees. People who file complaints must provide the attorney's name, the reason for the complaint and the ZIP code for the attorney's address when they file the complaint.
- United States Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics: Lawyers
- United States Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics: Lawyers, New Jersey
- New Jersey Courts: Office of Attorney Ethics
- American Bar Association: Legal Fees and Expenses, Contingency Fees
- Kenneth Vercammen & Associates: Retainer Agreement and Fees Charged by Attorneys
- Law.com: Court Vacates $99,000 Fee to Counsel for Plaintiff Who Won $650
- Photo Credit Hemera Technologies/Photos.com/Getty Images
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