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Can you afford a lawyer?

By: Eileen G. Mangubat May 14,2015 - 02:23 PM

Pro bono bases – cases handled for free – are done by lawyers with a soft spot for those with less in life, or who just can’t say no to a needy litigant.

Some lawyers like the late Winefreda Geonzon who formed the Free Legal Asssistance Volunteers Association (Free Lava) in the 1980s, made prison reform in the congested Cebu city jail, especially the needs of child offenders, an advocacy and community service.  After her death in 1990, the torch hasn’t been taken up with the same fervor as when she started the campaign as legal aid director of the IBP Cebu city chapter.

More often than not, lawyers prioritize winning the case of clients for a clear fee.

In 2012, both IBP chapters in Cebu city and province adopted a schedule of “standard minimum attorney’s fees” after updating the one published in 2005.

The new version added the word “standard”.

The rates are supposed to guide fellow lawyers in charging their clients, and for litigants to know what it costs to retain  professional legal services.

Its main rationale is economic.

Joint Resolution No. 02-2012 states that both IBP chapters adopted the schedule “ïn view of the continuous increase in fuel prices and of basic commodities thereby adversely affecting the corresponding office maintenance and other related expenses in rendering legal services”.

The basic fee is P500 per hour for “plain consultation.”

Research would cost P500 per hour.

A monthly retainship should start at P5,000.

The “acceptance fee” of a lawyer to defend a person accused in a criminal case  starts at P30,000 for the lowest level court such as  the Municipal Trial Court in Cities.

Major crimes like murder and rape are tried in the Regional Trial Court (RTC).  The acceptance fee for a lawyer would start at P50,000.

In case a guilty verdict is appealed to a higher court, the lawyer’s acceptance fee is P75,000 for the Court of Appeals, and for a case in the Supreme Court , P100,000.

This is separate from “appearance fees” billed each time a lawyer shows up in court for a client’s hearing:   P3,000 per hearing in the RTC or P1,000 per hour.

In the lower courts, a lawyer would ask for P1,500 or P800 per hour.

For a case heard before the Sandiganbayan or Court of Appeals, the fee is P5,000.   A lawyer who appears before the Supreme Court would expect to be paid at least P10,000 per hearing or P2,000 per hour.

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