Lawyers get paid a lot
Lawyer search, legal fees, free legal information
That's how much a lawyer costs you
Legal Expert As of April 19, 2021
Dr. Britta Beate Schön
Britta Beate Schön is responsible for all legal issues at Finanztip. The doctor of law and attorney was head of the legal department at financial service providers such as Telis Finanz AG and Interhyp. Before that, she taught and researched in Japan as a DAAD junior professor for German and European law. She completed her studies in Münster, Geneva, Regensburg and Leipzig. You can reach the author at [email protected]
- It is not worth comparing prices when it comes to legal fees: the minimum fees that a lawyer must charge are stipulated by law.
- As of January 1, 2021, attorney fees rose by around 10 percent.
- Lawyers can offer a free initial assessment.
- For quick, free legal advice, we recommend Klugo, Advocado and Yourxpert. These portals provide lawyers who offer a short free conversation as a special service.
- If you need extensive advice, then you should look for a qualified lawyer, preferably a specialist lawyer for your topic.
- Inquire beforehand about the costs and risks of litigation. The lawyer fee calculator from the lawyer search service will help you with the assessment.
Regardless of whether you are involved in a car accident, have trouble with your landlord or employer, or whether you are about to divorce: there can always be situations in your life in which you should seek advice from an expert in order to enforce your rights. The costswho can come up to you, let themselves assess well in advance, and the search after this right lawyer is not that difficultas you may fear.
What does legal advice cost?
It is not worth comparing prices when it comes to legal fees: the minimum fees that a lawyer must charge are set out in the Lawyers' Remuneration Act (RVG). That was changed on January 1, 2021; the costs have risen by around 10 percent as a result.
Your lawyer may ask for more money than the law says - for example, billing based on time spent - but only if you agree. He may not charge you less.
If you as a private person need advice from a lawyer or information, the fee for an initial consultation must not be higher than 190 euros plus VAT, i.e. a total of 226.10 euros (Section 34 RVG).
If you need an expert opinion to assess the legal situation, you pay at least 250 euros plus VAT; it can get more expensive with a fee agreement.
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How do you get a free initial assessment?
Maybe you are just looking for an answer to a specific legal question. For this purpose, Finanztip offers many guides on typical consumer topics. If no solution can be found, an initial legal assessment can help you. The Federal Court of Justice has ruled that lawyers may even offer initial consultations free of charge (BGH, judgment of July 3, 2017, Az. AnwZ (Brfg) 42/16).
Many lawyers now offer a free initial consultation, especially when consumers need an assessment of whether they can assert rights at all. Finanztip recommends lawyers on special consumer issues. We rate it positively when the law firms offer a free initial assessment. With the information, anyone can then consider whether it is worth starting a lawsuit.
Legal recruitment portals
You can also contact a legal recruitment portal with your question. You can enter your question on their website and ideally you will then receive free legal advice from a lawyer over the phone. This does not replace extensive advice, but it can still be useful.
We recommend you to do this three providers. You can find out how we found and selected them at the end of the guide.
- Initial assessment by a lawyer
- 100 lawyers are registered on the portal
- free advice on the phone
The portals are free of charge, so you are not entitled to a free initial assessment. So you shouldn't promise yourself too much, but it's worth a try. For the attending lawyers, this is a form of advertising. It is possible that the lawyer will send you an offer for a fee-based consultation after the interview. But then you can still think about what further steps you want to take.
What does an attorney letter cost?
You always need three values to calculate legal fees:
- the Amount in dispute - this is usually the euro amount that you are arguing about in total
- the feewhich is incurred for the respective amount in dispute - you can find the grading of the fees according to the value of the subject in Annex 2 to the RVG, for an amount in dispute of up to 500 euros a fee amounts to 49 euros, for example; for a value in dispute of up to 5,000 euros, there is a fee of 334 euros
- the Number of feesthat the lawyer may demand for his individual activities - half, full, but also double fees may arise
If your lawyer is to represent you out of court and, for example, write to your landlord or your insurance company, the fee for the letter results from the remuneration list (VV) for the RVG. Depending on the workload, he can charge half to 2.5 times the fee (No. 2300 VV).
On average, lawyers charge 1.3 times the fee. Your lawyer may only charge more if the activity was extensive or difficult. But he has to explain that to you.
If your lawyer was able to reach an out-of-court settlement, a 1.5-fold settlement fee is also due (No. 1000 VV). In addition, there is always a sales tax of 19 percent (No. 7008) and a postage and telecommunications flat rate of 20 euros (No. 7002 VV).
Example: You have been terminated because of your own needs. You want to defend yourself against it. Your monthly net rent is 800 euros. The object value amounts to an annual rent, i.e. 9,600 euros (Section 23 (1) RVG, Section 41 GKG). A business fee according to RVG is 558 euros for this amount in dispute (Section 13 RVG, Annex 2 up to 10,000 euros).
Example: lawyer in the event of termination for personal use
|Amount in dispute||9.600 €||costs|
|incurred business fee||€ 614 x 1.3||798,20 €|
|Postal flat rate||20,00 €|
|VAT of 19%||155,46 €|
Source: RVG and Finanztip calculation (as of April 2021)
What does it cost if a lawyer represents you in court?
This guide is all about legal fees in civil proceedings. Lawyers' fees are calculated differently before the administrative court, before the labor courts or in criminal proceedings.
If your lawyer is to represent you before a civil court, there are basically two types of fees: a procedural fee (1.3) and an appointment fee (1.2), because your lawyer has also appeared in court. Important: If your lawyer was already working for you before you went to court, then he must offset half of the pre-judicial costs already incurred against the procedural fee.
If the lawsuit ends with a settlement, your lawyer can also charge you a settlement fee.
To make all of this clear, we will continue with the example of a personal termination notice: The extrajudicial efforts of your lawyer did not lead to a solution. It's going to court. The object value amounts to an annual rent, i.e. 9,600 euros (Section 23 (1) RVG, Section 41 GKG). A business fee according to RVG amounts to 614 euros for the amount in dispute (Section 13 RVG, Annex 2, up to 10,000 euros).
Example: lawyer in the event of personal use termination in court
|Amount in dispute||9.600 €||costs|
|Procedural fee||€ 614 x 1.3||798,20 €|
|count towards half of this||€ 614 x 0.65||- 399,10 €|
|it remains:||399,10 €|
|Appointment fee||€ 614 x 1.2||736,80 €|
|Postal flat rate||20,00 €|
|VAT of 19%||219,62 €|
Source: RVG and Finanztip calculation (as of April 2021)
Effects of the remuneration reform
Due to the reform of the law on remuneration, attorney fees are reduced to January 1, 2021 increased by around 10 percent.
In some cases, however, legal fees have also been cut, such as disputes over rent reductions. According to the case law, the amount in dispute of a reduction claim has so far been calculated according to 3.5 times the annual amount of the rent reduction (BGH, decision of June 14, 2016, Az. VIII ZR 43/15). Since January 1, 2021, your lawyer may only base the annual amount of the rent reduction as the amount in dispute (see Section 41 (5) GKG).
Calculate legal fees online
To get a rough idea of how much you will have to pay your lawyer, you can use the calculator provided by the lawyer search service. You will receive explanatory information on filling out the form by clicking on the respective question mark. When entering the amount in dispute, the calculator will guide you to the correct value if you answer a few additional questions.
Danger: The calculator only applies to civil disputes. Legal fees in criminal law, labor law or public law are calculated differently. Ask your lawyer about this.
Success fee only permitted in exceptional cases
Lawyer and client can agree on a contingency fee, but only if the client would not enforce his rights without agreeing a contingency fee because he lacks the financial means (§ 4a RVG). The regulation has been in place since 2008, before performance-based payments were prohibited.
The loser pays everything
If you lose a lawsuit, you not only pay your legal fees, but also those of the opponent. Therefore, you should speak to your lawyer carefully about the litigation and cost risk before every lawsuit. The lawyer search service also offers a good calculator that you can use to calculate the costs if you lose. If you have legal expenses insurance, you don't have to worry about this.
Danger: In a lawsuit before a labor court, you always have to pay your lawyer, even if you win the lawsuit.
If you have legal expenses insurance
If you have legal protection insurance, your lawyer will usually clarify for you directly with the insurer whether they will cover the costs. But you shouldn't rely on that. Contact the insurer yourself and ask for a so-called cover letter - before you hire the lawyer. This way you can be sure that you don't get left with legal fees. The excess that is stipulated in your insurance contract remains. Note that legal expenses insurance usually only pays for disputes that after taking out insurance have arisen.
How do you find the right lawyer?
According to the Federal Bar Association, there were around 147,000 lawyers in the entire federal territory as of January 1, 2020. From this large number you have to find the right lawyer for you. The decisive criterion is not the price, but the quality. Most lawyers specialize in one or two areas of law. In view of the plethora of legal questions and case law, this also makes sense.
A specialization often goes hand in hand with a special theoretical and practical specialist lawyer training. Every specialist attorney must regularly attend further training in his specialty. This is to ensure that the lawyer is always up to date with the latest legislation and case law: a basic requirement for good legal advice.
Tip:Ask around among friends and acquaintances and find out who has had good experiences with which lawyer. But always ask in which area of law the recommended lawyer worked. A good family lawyer is usually not an expert in labor law.
You should look for a lawyer who is expert in your specific legal issue. There are, for example, lawyers specializing in labor law, banking and capital market law, inheritance law, family law, medical law, tenancy and residential property law, social law, tax law, traffic law and insurance law. According to the membership statistics of the Federal Bar Association as of January 1, 2020, more than 57,000 admitted lawyers have a specialist lawyer title, most of them in labor law.
Find a specialist lawyer who has a law firm near you. So you can have a personal conversation without having to rely on the phone alone.
Finanztip recommends individual law firms that are highly specialized on specific legal issues:
Lawyer search services
Every bar association offers a tracing service in which all members are listed. The Federal Bar Association has listed all addresses of the 28 bar associations on its website. You can find a lawyer for your question in your region on their website.
There are also numerous other lawyer search services, for example anwalt-suchservice.de. The operator of this search service is the legal specialist publisher Dr. Otto Schmidt. However, only 15,500 lawyers are included in this search.
To the arbitration board in case of trouble with the lawyer
If you do not agree with the amount of the attorney's fees, if you do not feel sufficiently informed about the costs or if you accuse your attorney of making mistakes, you should first discuss this directly with your attorney. If you cannot find a solution, you can contact the lawyers' arbitration board free of charge.
The arbitration board mediates disputes up to a value of 50,000 euros. A settlement proposal will be submitted to the parties, which you may or may not accept. According to the activity report, the office completed around 1,100 procedures in 2020. Around 8 percent of the arbitration proposals were entirely in favor of the consumer. The consumer has reached an agreement with the lawyer in around 340 cases. That means the lawyer had to cut his bill or pay damages.
So we have selected the portals for a free legal question
In March 2021, after a Google search for “free legal advice from a lawyer”, we found eight lawyer placement portals on the first three search results pages. We have sent an extensive questionnaire to these providers.
We wanted to know how many lawyers offer their services via the respective portal, in which areas they convey the most inquiries and whether the advice is given by phone, e-mail or in the office. We also asked how the portals earn money and how the data of those seeking advice are protected. Of those contacted, three portals answered our questions comprehensively: Klugo, Advocado and Yourxpert.
Then we posted two legal questions each via the website of these three providers, which readers had sent us by e-mail - a case relating to sales law and a question about the maternity protection law. The portals could achieve a maximum of 80 points in our sample. We rated four aspects, each with 10 points per legal question:
- Simply enter the legal question and find a lawyer
- Receive legal advice
- Legal information is useful and relevant to action
- Information is in the foreground, not advertising for advice that is subject to a fee
They are sorted according to the points achieved: Klugo (80 points), Advocado (45 points), Yourxpert (30 points).
We got two convincing answers about Klugo in our sample. The lawyers each gave specific assistance for the next steps. The focus of the talks was not on advertising for a fee-based consultation, but on providing information free of charge. We were therefore able to give 80 points to Klugo.
We only received one piece of information about our two legal cases from Advocado and Yourxpert. There were no specific recommendations for action, and we immediately received two offers for a fee-based consultation. However, our investigation was only a random sample that does not allow any general conclusions to be drawn about the quality of the lawyers placed.
We recommend all three legal agents as you can easily try out any portal without having to pay immediately. Basically, we think it's a good and easy way to get legal advice, even if you don't promise yourself too much.
More on this in the legal protection insurance guide
- You can get good legal protection for less than 300 euros a year.
- Tariffs recommended by us: Arag Aktiv Komfort, Auxilia Jurprivat, WGV Optimal
To the advisor
Dr. Britta Beate Schön
Britta Beate Schön is responsible for all legal issues at Finanztip.The doctor of law and attorney was head of the legal department at financial service providers such as Telis Finanz AG and Interhyp. Before that, she taught and researched in Japan as a DAAD junior professor for German and European law. She completed her studies in Münster, Geneva, Regensburg and Leipzig. You can reach the author at [email protected]
* What the star means:
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