The question of how much does a traffic lawyer cost is one I get asked all the time. No doubt, it’s a legitimate question. And with just a few quick facts, you can get an answer from almost any attorney that handles traffic tickets.
How old is the ticket? What’s it for? What county is it in? These are likely to be the you will be asked by the attorney you contact, because these questions basically allow for a calculation of the amount of work that’s involved.
But when you are asking questions of the attorney, should price be one of the first questions you ask? Hardly, in fact, it should be the last. Here’s why.
To ask a question about price, you are assuming that Traffic Attorneys are like Milk (tastes the same no matter what pay for it). Milk happens to be a commodity. You are wise to shop around for the lowest price, because regardless of what you pay for it, it is pretty much going to look, taste and quench your thirst exactly the same. The only difference when you consume Milk, happens to be what you pay for it.
Traffic lawyers are not Milk. They come in all shapes and sizes (literally and figuratively).
What I mean by that, is some traffic lawyers are small one man/woman operations, and are usually cheaper because they have less overhead, but must rely on outside assistance for help. When they do that, you should have a right to know. How confident can you be that the person being called on to assist the attorney is really putting forth the proper effort? How many other attorneys is this outside help working for? If it’s more than one, why not just find out who, so you can call them up and shop around. Better yet, why not just hire them directly. Cut out the middle man.
More importantly, if this attorney who is helping out, is being hired by multiple Traffic Attorney, what’s the real incentive for them to do a good job on your case? If they screw up, it’s no skin off their back, as the attorney who hired them will lose the client who will hire another traffic attorney the next time who will only go and hire that same person to handle the case. You see how this only ends up hurting the client, who, in many cases, has no idea who is actually fighting on their behalf in court? Many times, the results obtained by these attorneys is not as good because they have no incentive to “go the extra mile” and try for a better result.
Conversely, some firms are not one man/woman operations and appear to charge more. These firms have dedicated traffic lawyers, who do nothing but fight traffic tickets all day for one firm and have a vested interest in the outcome. Many of them have been with the same traffic ticket law firm for many, many years and would personally stand to lose their jobs if the results were not consistently very good over time. Who would you rather hire? For me, personally, I always prefer someone who has their own “skin in the game,” as the saying goes.
It’s important that you not be penny wise and pound foolish. Do not hire an attorney to save $10-$20 if doing so could be the difference between hundreds or thousands of dollars in higher court costs or higher insurance increases. It’s the old “price vs. cost” argument. Sometimes you really do get what you pay for.
Don’t be afraid to ask these questions before you ask how much the traffic lawyer is going to cost. Because if you don’t get a good answer to the first question, the next one becomes irrelevant.