$259/Hour: How Much People THINK Attorneys Charge

The cost of hiring an attorney is a mystery to many people.

Depending on the TV shows they watch and movies they’ve seen, some people think that hiring an attorney is an astronomical cost that only the wealthy and privileged can manage.

Are they right?

Regardless of the answer, if that truly is their belief then they probably won’t even attempt to find someone to hire.  For attorneys, this means there is potentially a large group of prospective clients who won’t even attempt to reach out.

Even when people do look for an attorney to hire, the belief that attorney services are a luxury can make them feel uneasy in general, uncertain about the process, and very worried about the money they’ll  spend.

Not good for attorneys!

So, if you happen to be an attorney, what should you do?  First things first!  You need to know how much people think attorneys charge on an hourly basis.

Our survey of over 300 people reveals what people THINK attorneys charge and what people believe attorneys SHOULD charge.


When completing an online survey, a random assortment of Americans across the country estimated that attorneys charge $259 per hour, on average.

Of course this is a very general baseline number that doesn’t take into account the attorney’s practice area, reputation, or experience level.  Still, if this is what the general public believes an attorney will cost, you’ll need to answer one simple but important question:

“Are you more or less affordable than the average person expects?”

If your rate is greater than $259/hour, you may be faced with a justification problem.  That is, the burden is on you to justify why your services are worth more than people expect to pay.

On the other hand, if your rate is less than $259/hour, you may be faced with a credibility issue.  Yes, some people will believe that they are getting a great deal.  But some prospective clients will wonder why your services are “cheaper” and whether you’re struggling to acquire or retain clients.

Which situation are you in?


It’s perhaps no surprise that people want attorney services to be cheaper than they are.  In general people assume that attorneys charge too much.

But exactly how overpriced are attorneys in the consumer’s mind?

When asked, people stated that attorneys, on average, should charge $118 per hour.  This is considered the “perceived value”.  So, in other words, your average prospect believes that attorneys overcharge their clients by %220.

How likely are you to search for and purchase something that you think is more than twice the price it should be?  That’s what you’re up against as an attorney—prospects who believe that your services are more expensive than they’re worth.


In general, attorneys are going to be challenged in the same way.  They will need to overcome the belief that their services are overpriced.

As an attorney, it your responsibility to bridge the gap between the perceived value and what you’re actually charging.

Here are a few strategies that can help you convey the true value of the services you provide. By educating the consumer and addressing their concerns, you may very well justify your hourly rate in their minds.

Tout Your Affordability

If your prices are lower than what people think attorneys charge, make it known.

Instead of simply telling them to call for more information, use your website and social media to highlight your reasonable hourly rates.

No, you don’t need an unsightly blinking neon sign advertising $79 specials. But, subtly stating that your former clients have been surprised by the affordability of your firm’s legal services could do much to alleviate prospects’ concerns.

Keep in mind the issue of credibility and address it by highlighting the reasons that you’re less expensive than other attorneys. If the explanation is that you run a highly efficient and streamlined operation, highlight that aspect of your legal practice.

Show Your Flexibility

Some attorneys have negotiable prices or determine their hourly rate on a case-by-case basis. If you do this, again, make it known.

Nobody wants to call a law firm or come in for an initial consult only to realize that they couldn’t possibly afford to hire the firm. Save prospects that embarrassment! Let potential clients know about your sliding scale or payment plan options.

Simply knowing that your firm is willing to work with their particular situation can make prospects more willing to give it a shot.

Justify Luxury Pricing

If your prices are higher than what people expect to pay, you need to put in more effort. This is where bridging the gap between the perceived value and actual price comes into play.

  • Let people know that you’re going to do everything in your power to help them get their money’s worth.
  • Show off your fancy degrees and vast experience.
  • Reassure them with social proof like your stellar reputation and prior client satisfaction.

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that people will automatically know or understand why your services are more expensive. You’ll need to walk them through the special care and value they’ll receive as your client.

Focus on Service

Many times, attorneys can’t guarantee a particular outcome. From the consumer’s point of view that’s a big problem.

Spending hundreds or thousands of dollars on something that may or may not be worthwhile is never a comfortable place for the American consumer.

Emphasize the outcomes that you genuinely think you can achieve. If you’re honest about your potential to help them, people can get an accurate estimate of what their money is getting them.


There will always be people who think you charge too much, regardless of the actual price. Luckily, it’s still possible to make them feel better about the money they’re spending.

Put prospective clients at ease the best way you can. Help them realize it is less expensive than they think ($259/hour). Or help them understand why it is in fact worth more than $259 per hour.

Either way, now you know what they’re expecting. Use that knowledge wisely.

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