General Question

JLeslie's avatar

Do lawyers always charge for long distance calls?

Asked by JLeslie (47573 points ) February 20th, 2014

I was looking over a standard contract to hire a lawyer to represent someone and it said he charges 33¢ per page for copies (thievery in my opinion) and then also had a list of other fees, one of which was long distance calls. Seriously? What lawyer doesn’t have unlimited long distance? It just seems like nickel and diming gone too far. I would guess if you complain about it they think you are the one who is cheap.

Just another thing to sicken me. Unless by some off chance businesses can’t get unlimited long distance deals like everyone else can. Even so, the guy has a cell phone. It didn’t say how much they charge for long distance.

Makes me want to live far far away from everyone and everything.

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14 Answers

SavoirFaire's avatar

Yes. As you’ve seen, lawyers charge for everything they can. I have an aunt who is a paralegal, and one of the firms she worked for allowed her to charge any food she ordered while working on a case to that case’s account (i.e., to the client).

livelaughlove21's avatar

The attorneys I work for also charge for copies and long distance calls. They don’t use their personal cell phones for business purposes unless they’re out of the office. I’m not sure how much we charge per minute or per page, though, as I don’t do anything with billing other than entering attorney time.

Lawyers are expensive; it’s not news to anyone at this point. However, the amount of copies made during the course of any lawsuit is ridiculous. Trust me, I’m the one that gets to make all of them.

JLeslie's avatar

@livelaughlove21 I don’t mind paying for copies, I mind paying an outrageous disgusting unscrupulous price for copies. Some doctors are doing this now too for charts.

I can’t imagine the phones at your office are billed by the phone company per call. Unless business phone billing is different than residential? My phone at home I pay a flat fee and can call anywhere in the US and Canada.

You helped me already with your answer though. So did @SavoirFaire.

bolwerk's avatar

I don’t get the long-distance thing – probably made sense in the 1990s and he’s still doing it because he can – but the copying thing makes some sense to a point. Copying takes time and distracts a paid employee from other work.

GoldieAV16's avatar

Lawyers charge for everything and anything they can – and they round up. If you complain about it, they’re going to charge for the time it took them to listen to your complaint, and round that up, too.

What I especially hate is when one hasn’t completed something, and I have to send an email or call to remind them, and get charged for having done so. GRRRR.

SwanSwanHummingbird's avatar

Yes. You can negotiate expenses before you sign a retainer.

You have no idea how much it costs to maintain a copy machine and buy paper. Courts want paper docs, mostly, and all that money adds up.

Charging for long distance calls is petty in my opinion. There is very little charge to a firm for calls. I think you can negotiate that.

I work in the legal profession.

JLeslie's avatar

@SwanSwanHummingbird One more question since you work in the legal profession. I have a statute of limitations about to expire. Can I officially file a claim or can only a lawyer do that before the statute runs out? I was going to try to handle it myself, but I am concerned the insurance company (It’s a car accident) is stalling me hoping the statute runs out. No matter what you answer I would double check the information just to reassure you I won’t take what you say as the gospel.

SwanSwanHummingbird's avatar

You can file anything at any time in your own name. This will incur fees. Once you file your case you can hire any attorney you want to represent you.

And remember, just because you win does not mean the defendant will pay it.

If it’s a small amount consider small claims. Much cheaper.

JLeslie's avatar

@SwanSwanHummingbird So, I can file myself and later still hire a lawyer if I am getting nowhere with my claim? I can hire the lawyer even past the statute of limitations if I have officially filed before the statute? Is that correct? When I file do I have to name an amount I am looking for? Do I file with the state? Or, who exactly do I file with? Lastly, can I hurt my case in anyway by supplying my medical bills, chart, etc, if later I might hire a lawyer. Won’t all that need to be supplied anyway, or will a lawyer present the information in a specific way. I had the impression the lawyer uses the actual amount the doctors and hospitals use as the fees, and not the negotiated price by my medical insurance. Maybe I misunderstood? The system is so disgusting, because don’t we all know the price is jacked up and no one pays that high price? It’s just jacked up so the insurance can bring it down.

This is definitely way more than small claims.

hearkat's avatar

I know it’s a different kind of case, but I filed for child-support myself and didn’t hire an attorney until later. I would think it would be possible to do so yourself for other types of cases, as well.

SwanSwanHummingbird's avatar

As long as you file before the SOL date you can hire a lawyer at any time.

File in your city/county or where the incident occurred as a civil suit. You can simply put you are seeking damages as recompense and if you want pain and suffering. No need to put an exact amount.

All the proof and documents and such will be necessary for the discovery faze of your case. Gather everything you can even if it seems unimportant. The defense will ask for those and might want to depose you.

If you gather those records yourself attorneys fees will be less than if you let them get the records.

From all that you have said I really recommend you hire a lawyer. Insurance companies are notorious for dragging things out as long as they can. The right lawyer can probably settle your case quickly.

JLeslie's avatar

Thanks everyone!

JLeslie's avatar

@SwanSwanHummingbird If the lawyer is getting a third of the settlement does he also on top of that bill me for hours? Like if I talk to him, or hours he spends working on the case? Or, does the third cover all that?

SwanSwanHummingbird's avatar

Typically, a retainer is a flat percentage of you recovery; typically 40%. That retainer will also list all the extra charges they tack on—printing, depos, etc. If you have a retainer they do not charge by the hour, they just take their fees out of your settlement, if there is one. Sometimes if there is no settlement in your favor you have to pay all the costs. That’s why some people choose to have hours billed instead of a retainer.

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