Factors That Affect How Much Lawyer Charge Per Hour

how much lawyer charge per hour

Attorneys offering hourly rates typically charge a fixed rate per hour or portion thereof when working on cases. This fee structure can be found across virtually all areas of law practice.

Legal billing software can automate the calculation of these six-minute increments for more efficient billable hours charts.


Experience is one factor that determines a lawyer’s rates; those with longstanding practices, extensive credentials and proven successes often charge more.

Experienced attorneys are costly as they waste time wading through unfamiliar legal processes, miss deadlines and court dates, file documents incorrectly and engage in costly legal proceedings. Attorneys that specialize in particular areas of law are more valuable as they can accomplish your legal goals more quickly and efficiently.

Lawyers generally bill hourly; therefore, the type of case you present will determine how long it will take them to work on it. Many lawyers utilize six-minute increments that make timekeeping simpler with legal billing software and make calculating hours easier as well. Your location also plays a factor; attorneys in larger cities often charge more than those working in rural areas and may require you pay an initial retainer fee upfront to start working on it.


Reputation plays an important role when determining how much lawyers charge. Attorneys from larger, more renowned law firms tend to command higher hourly rates than smaller practices; though this doesn’t indicate which attorney is more qualified or skilled. Therefore, when selecting legal representation it is wise to take their reputation into consideration when hiring counsel.

An attorney’s hourly rate is typically calculated in 10-minute increments (every six minutes), to make their total billable hours calculation easier for clients and facilitate creating a billable hours chart. Many lawyers opt for legal billing software which automatically calculates these numbers automatically, eliminating manual time entry systems while decreasing human errors.

Attorneys need a reliable time record system in place in order to set and manage billable rates that remain competitive with market demands and remain cost-efficient. Legal billing software equips attorneys with all of the information needed to set and control hourly rates, as well as gain clarity into utilization and realization rates in their firm.

Case Complexity

Experience, reputation and firm location all play an integral part in determining how much a lawyer charges per hour; however, case complexity will ultimately have the most significant effect. For example, hiring someone who charges $200 an hour but takes 10 hours on one filing will cost more than hiring someone with similar rates who takes only 10 minutes on it.


Fee structures play an essential role in determining legal fees. Some lawyers charge hourly rates while others offer flat or contingency fees; other factors that impact lawyer costs include field of law and location.

Hourly billing is a popular fee arrangement among attorneys. Under this method, they bill clients for time spent researching and drafting legal documents, reviewing case files, negotiating with opposing parties, attending court hearings and tracking time every six minutes; for instance a five-minute phone call could be billed as 0.01 hours.

Attorneys also take into account operating expenses of their practice and living costs in their local area when setting hourly rates, so a New York attorney may charge higher hourly rates due to higher living expenses than attorneys from smaller towns. They also consider factors like level of expertise and past performance when setting these hourly fees.