Normal RE Lawyer Rate?

18 Replies

Hi all,

I recently had a tenant fall on my property and decided it’s time to lawyer up. The lawyer I called I ended up liking a lot and he has a lot of experience specifically in RE law, but his hourly rate is $400. His paralegal is $160/hr. Just wondering if this is in the ballpark of normal or if I should look elsewhere. For reference, I’m in Austin, TX. Thank you!!

I am just going to ask a simple question here - Do you not have insurance? I would think you do and they should be made aware of the issue immediately.  

As far as the rate- for Texas I would think that is about right.   

Good luck

Steve 

@Steven Warner

Yes I have insurance.  they found us not liable for the fall, but I still think I should have a lawyer on deck who knows me and my business. I also want to refer my tenant to him moving forward because she’s asking for a break on rent due to the fall, and for us to replace the pathway she fell on (which we do not intend to do because it was proven to be a non hazard).

 Thoughts on all this?? Thanks!!!

Hi Jennifer!

Given this, it looks like it comes down to tenant relations--- or shall I say "Are they worth keeping?"  

If they are work keeping then I might try to work with them some so that it creates a "win-win" atmosphere.  If you do something on their behalf or that was requested - I would make sure to get the request in writing as well as any response you offer in writing.  Protect yourself now even if they are "good" tenants. 

If they are not worth keeping then I would not agree to do anything.  Tell them you believe you are not liable for anything and while you understand that their injury may have caused them some difficulties, you are not responsible for those difficulties.   Again- in writing. 

If you go with the attorney, he is going to ask of you what do you have in writing regarding the injury and any agreed remedies.  

Bottom line is that while you think you may need an attorney, personally I would waiting until an actual suit/or demand for money is served on you.  

Whatever you do make sure it is written form. 

Good luck!

Steve

While you need a lawyer you can call when needed, there is No need for you to be paying an attorney to deal with this.  Until/unless she files suit, there’s nothing you need to do....if she files suit, your insurance company and their lawyers will handle it.

@Jennifer Jackson Seattle, WA... if you believe you’ll be litigating some or a lot, a great attorney is wonderful in court.

If you’re seeking advise and doing contracts then $400 per hour is a lot...

I have an excellent attorney who litigates and consults on contracts..., $210 per hour... If it’s looking at a contract or adding an addendum in a deal $100-$150...

Jennifer- 

I understand what you are trying to do- be a good LL - but you really should not do anything.  To do so otherwise can be viewed as an admission of guilty/liability.    I

And even if you do given them $$ I would have them sign a Release or at least acknowledge that the money you are providing is not an admission but is an accommodation during her tough times.   

And if you given the $200 then are you still going to pay $400- 600 for an attorney to draw up the release?  So now you are closing in on a $1000 - just to be a good LL for a tenant that is not taking responsibility for her own role in her "accident".  

No, I say give her nothing other than sympathy, "I hope you are alright",  for her "fall" until you are served or a demand is made by her or her attorney.  And even then, what are her real damages?   Not much I would guess. 

Steve

@Steven Warner

Thanks so much. That’s exactly what I was concerned about. It sucks because being a “good “ person and helping screws you over in the business sense. At the end of the day, this is a business and I’m her landlord, not her mother. 

Great responses. Again, thanks for the advice everyone. BP is a great community !!! 

@Caleb Heimsoth

No lawsuit, but I do want to consult someone to make sure I’m responding in an appropriate way. For example, before I consulted a lawyer (via something called just answer ), I would have offered her some $$ for her inconvenience. I now realize that’s accepting blame. it seems very necessary to get anything in writing checked over before sending. 

Hi!  I'm a lawyer in Austin, TX.  My practice is mostly in the area of RE (State Board of Legal Specialization is the only authority that can permit a lawyer to say they "specialize" in an area of law, which requires fees, exams, and a "pretty pretty please".)

Attorney fees are based on several factors that have been thoroughly litigated:

(1) the time and labor required, the novelty and difficulty of the questions involved, and the skill required to perform the legal service properly;
(2) the likelihood that the acceptance of the particular employment will preclude other employment by the lawyer;
(3) the fee customarily charged in the locality for similar legal services;
(4) the amount involved and the results obtained;
(5) the time limitations imposed by the client or by the circumstances;
(6) the nature and length of the professional relationship with the client;
(7) the experience, reputation, and ability of the lawyer or lawyers performing the services; and
(8) whether the fee is fixed or contingent on results obtained or uncertainty of collection before the legal services have been rendered.

Like other professionals that are free to set a market rate, we gauge the highest wage that the market will bear.  What is said for contractors goes for lawyers: Good, Fast, or Cheap - you get 2 out of 3.  An attorney who's practiced in your are of law for 20 years and the law/facts are well settled will charge much differently than one who's practiced for 5 years and the law/facts are too new to predict a set of likely outcomes.  Same thing as lawyers in rural areas where there are few attorneys who can take a case compared to major urban centers where there are plenty of lawyers.

As for your situation, slips/trips/falls are under premise liability defense, not so much on the RE side.  Your insurance has already made a determination that you're not liable.  If your T lawyer's up, your insurance will hire one of their insurance defense firms to represent you on their behalf.  You, as always, are free to hire your own lawyer in addition to theirs that they will pay for, but you will be out of pocket on yours.

Until T does lawyer up, not much to do without knowing a lot more about your facts.  

You dont need a lawyer yet. Like Jerel stated. 


Also I’ve paid lawyers form $200-$1200/yr. There is a huge variety of attorneys lol. Usually the larger the law firm, the higher the price. But sometimes you have to hire them for the name.

My guy is $250/hr contract review/consult, $400 in court.

I agree with Jerel.  This is more of a civil injury litigation attorney matter than an RE one.

Also agree you don't need an attorney until there is something material on paper to review and respond to that insurance won't handle.  

First, I would not email her.  I would try to casually talk to her and say basically that it seems like we aren't on the same page about certain things in the apartment (i.e. the ramp), that it appears she is not happy there, life is too short and that it is best for her to move on in life.  I'd say that I would be happy to contribute $500 or $1000 (whatever you feel would compel her to move) to her moving costs.  You don't want her to think that you are retaliating against her for the lawsuit.  

BTW this isn't legal advice. I am not licensed in TX.