Can You Afford a Lawyer?

The Santa Barbara County Lawyer Referral Service is a free service that will connect a client with an appropriate attorney for a 30 minute consultation. However, the attorney will bill the client per any subsequent arrangements made after this initial meeting. There are a few different ways the attorney may request payment:


Hourly Fees

It is not uncommon for attorneys to charge fees of $350/hr or more. After the initial meeting, an attorney may set up a retainer agreement between the attorney or firm, and the client as a commitment to carry a case through to conclusion. This retainer fee must be paid before the attorney takes on the case. After the court has made a decision, the attorney will bill the client for time spent working on the case.



If the client wishes to sue an individual or corporation, it is possible to enter a contingency agreement with an attorney. Contingent fees are fees that are only charged if the lawsuit is successful. An attorney who agrees to contingency will take their payment as a percentage of the amount awarded. Most attorneys, however, will only accept cases on contingency if there is a high probability of success. And often, the client may be responsible for the costs incurred in connection with the case, such as expert witness fees.


Pro Bono

Pro bono publico, which means “for the public good” in Latin, refers to work undertaken voluntarily and without payment as a public service. The Santa Barbara County Lawyer Referral Service does not have any pro bono attorneys.


The method of payment is ultimately a decision the attorney discusses with the Client. Clients can typically expect to pay a retainer and hourly fees.


If you are in need of an attorney, please contact our Lawyer Referral Service by email at or by phone at 805-569-9400. Please keep in mind that our attorneys do not offer free legal advice and it is typical to expect average rates of $350/hr for legal services.

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