How Much Does A DUI Attorney Cost in Atlanta?
As expected, one of the 1st things that prospective clients ask is: how much does a DUI attorney cost in Atlanta? This is a completely legitimate question. Prices for DUI attorneys are all over the map. And the predictable answer to this question is: it depends on whether the lawyer is good and experienced.
ARE THERE RULES THAT GOVERN THE AMOUNT OF A FEE THAT A LAWYER MAY CHARGE IN YOUR DUI CASE?
Of course, there is. Rule 1.5 of the Georgia Rules of Professional Conduct establishes the standard for setting fees.
Unfortunately, Rule 1.5 doesn’t really tell you anything about what a DUI in Atlanta should cost. That’s right, the rule simply requires the attorney fee to be “reasonable”. The rule does give us a little guidance about some of the factors that can impact the attorney fee:
- the time and labor required, the novelty and difficulty of the questions involved, and the skill requisite to perform the legal service properly;
- the likelihood that the acceptance of the particular employment will preclude other employment by the lawyer;
- the fee customarily charged in the locality for similar legal services;
- the amount involved and the results obtained;
- the time limitations imposed by the client or by the circumstances;
- the nature and length of the professional relationship with the client;
- the experience, reputation, and ability of the lawyer or lawyers performing the services; and
- whether the fee is fixed or contingent.
WHAT DO YOU NEED TO BE REALLY AWARE IN CONSIDERING FEES OF VARIOUS DUI ATTORNEYS IN ATLANTA?
Most of my clients are really intelligent and savvy, but if you’re not wise to the game that is lawyer fees, you need to talk with someone who knows before you negotiate a fee.
You absolutely must know how the fee structure incentivizes (or creates disincentives) for your attorney. You also must be able to appreciate what the fee agreement says about the work that the lawyer does (and does not) want to do.
Our Rule 1.5 requires that the lawyer define the scope of the representation and the basis or rate of the fee and expenses for which the client will be responsible. Rule 1.5 does not require a written fee agreement. Do not hire a lawyer that does not provide a written fee agreement.
WHY CAN’T I AGREE TO PAY THE LAWYER A GREATER AMOUNT IF HE/SHE DELIVERS A BETTER RESULT IN MY DUI CASE?
The answer is: Because I worked really hard to obtain my State Bar license and it is really important to my family’s future, I’m not willing to violate the Georgia Rules of Professional Conduct by engaging in a contingency fee arrangement in a criminal/DUI case.
Contingent fee agreements allow the lawyer to be paid (or paid more) after getting a favorable result. You should not have any lawyer propose a contingent arrangement in a DUI case.
Rule 1.5 provides, in relevant part, that:
A lawyer shall not enter into an arrangement for, charge, or collect:
any fee in a domestic relations matter, the payment or amount of which is contingent upon the securing of a divorce or upon the amount of alimony or support, or property settlement in lieu thereof; or
a contingent fee for representing a defendant in a criminal case.
A division of a fee between lawyers who are not in the same firm may be made only if:
the division is in proportion to the services performed by each lawyer or, by written agreement with the client, each lawyer assumes joint responsibility for the representation;
the client is advised of the share that each lawyer is to receive and does not object to the participation of all the lawyers involved; and
the total fee is reasonable.