How Much Does a Civil Rights Attorney Cost?

If you watch the evening news, you have probably seen a story that discussed the violation of someone’s civil rights. The plaintiff in each case walked side-by-side with an attorney who may have given a short sound bite to a reporter covering the case. Nothing is often said about the specifics of the case except the plaintiff plans to file charges alleging the violation of his or her civil rights.

But what does a civil rights case involve? A civil rights case concerns the fundamental rights granted to every United States citizen according to the laws passed by the United States Congress and written into the United States Constitution. Civil rights cases can include discrimination based on factors such as age, race, gender, religion, and disability. Civil rights also grant Americans privacy, due process, and free speech. Lawyers that litigate civil rights cases have a deep understanding of the federal laws that protect Americans from government overreach.

If you had your civil rights violated, contact one of the civil rights lawyers at Morgan & Morgan. Civil rights cases are often difficult to prosecute because of the lack of hard evidence. This is why you should work with the best civil rights attorneys in the United States. We will answer every one of your questions, including the question, “How much does a civil rights attorney cost?”

Where Do Our Civil Rights Originate?

The foundation of our civil rights is the first 10 amendments to the United States Constitution. Referred to as the Bill of Rights, the first 10 amendments grant Americans the right of assembly, free speech, and freedom of religion. The Bill of Rights also protects Americans against self-discrimination, as well as unlawful searches and seizures.

In addition to the Bill of Rights, the United States Congress has enacted several landmark laws that protect the civil rights of American citizens.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

Motivated by the pressure mounted by the Civil Rights Movement, Congress passed Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The groundbreaking civil rights law prohibits discrimination in the workplace based on a number of factors. Title VII also protects Americans against discrimination when it comes to voting, housing, and access to education.

Age Discrimination Act

The Age Discrimination Act addressed a factor that Congress left out of Title VII. Congress made it illegal for any program that receives federal assistance to discriminate based on age. Enacted three years after Title VII, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 prohibits age discrimination against workers that are at least 40 years old.

Americans With Disabilities Act

By making the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) a federal law, Congress banned the practice of discrimination based on a disability in employment, transportation, telecommunications, commercial facilities, and public accommodations.

Fair Housing Act

The Fair Housing Act expanded the legal reach of Title VII by forbidding discrimination in housing based on factors like age, race, gender, and family status. 

Voting Rights Act

Because of Jim Crow laws and other voting barriers faced by minorities, Congress passed the Voting Rights Act. The monumental civil rights law eliminates any barriers that discourage minorities from voting in elections.

A majority of states have passed civil rights laws that either match the legal constraints put in place by Title VII or strengthen the legal language written into the federal civil rights law.

What Are the Most Common Types of Civil Rights Cases?

At Morgan & Morgan, we have a long record of success arguing civil rights cases for our clients. Our team of lawyers litigates some types of civil rights cases more frequently than other types of civil rights cases.

Employment Discrimination

As one of the most common types of civil rights cases, employment discrimination extends outside of the workplace. Title VII applies to job applicants as well. If your employer denied you a promotion based on one of the factors listed under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, you should consult with one of the civil rights lawyers at Morgan & Morgan.

Housing Discrimination

Landlords also cannot discriminate against tenants based on race, gender, national origin, or sexual identity. Tenants that face discrimination might receive eviction notices for no sound legal reason. Landlords also are not allowed to charge protected classes of tenants more rent than they charge other tenants.

Sexual Harassment

A study conducted by Potter and Banyard discovered that nearly 40 percent of women in the workforce have faced some form of sexual harassment. Common types of sexual harassment at work include offensive jokes, unwanted physical advances, and suggestive speech and gestures. If you have faced sexual harassment in the workplace, you need to fight back by hiring an experienced civil rights attorney.

How Much Does a Civil Rights Lawyer Cost?

Many factors come into play when determining how much a civil rights lawyer charges clients. Location is an important factor, as civil rights attorneys that work in large metropolitan areas charge more than civil rights lawyers that represent clients in smaller communities. You also have to consider the prestige of a law firm, as more prestigious law firms tend to charge clients more for the same civil rights legal services that are provided by less well-known civil rights litigators.

The most important factor of all is the type of fee structure used by a civil rights attorney.

Civil rights attorneys charge on an hourly or contingency fee basis, as well as the combination of both types of legal fee structures.

Contingency Fee

Many civil rights cases involve large payouts for plaintiffs. With the potential for a huge payday, a civil rights attorney might choose to charge a client on a contingency fee basis. Under this type of legal fee structure, the lawyer receives compensation based on the favorable outcome of a civil rights lawsuit. For example, if you win a judgment of $100,000 against a former employer for discrimination in the workplace and your lawyer receives 25 percent of your just compensation, your attorney earns $25,000 for successfully litigating your case.

Hourly Fee

Lawyers that charge by the hour might not be confident about the outcome of a civil rights case or they believe the case is a relatively easy one to litigate. An hourly fee structure can quickly run your legal bill into thousands of dollars. If you decide to go with an hourly fee structure, your lawyer has to document the time he or she puts into your case.

Success Fee

As a hybrid between hourly and contingency fees, a success fee charges a lower hourly rate in return for a lower percentage of a judgment awarded in a civil rights case.

Pro Bono

Most civil rights attorneys set aside some time each year to work on pro bono cases. Pro bono, which translates into “for the common good,” means clients do not get charged a legal fee. Groups such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) have a database of lawyers that contribute pro bono legal work.

How Much Does Experience Matter?

Is experience a factor when determining how much a civil rights attorney costs? The answer is yes, as more experienced lawyers take on more complex cases that warrant the charging of higher legal fees. If you hire a law firm to litigate your civil rights case, you might pay a junior associate as low as $200 an hour, while paying a senior partner more than $800 per hour. More experienced civil rights lawyers also charge higher percentages for contingency fees. A junior associate might charge 20 percent, while a more experienced senior partner can charge as high as a 40 percent contingency fee.

How Do I Choose the Best Civil Rights Attorney?

You should consider several factors before you select a civil rights attorney to litigate your case.

Ask the Right Questions

Experience matters, but you should not measure experience by just a lawyer’s number of years litigating civil rights cases. Instead, you should ask the following questions that shed more light on a civil rights attorney’s experience.

  1. How many civil rights cases have you litigated?
  2. What were the outcomes of those cases?
  3. What types of civil rights cases have you handled?
  4. Do you have experience litigating my type of civil rights case?
  5. How much trial experience do you have?

Responsive Communicator

Civil rights cases are often fluid litigation processes. The defendant might refuse to negotiate a settlement one day, only to agree to negotiations the next day. Your civil rights lawyer must be a responsive communicator to ensure you remain up to speed on the latest case developments. You can expect to have plenty of questions regarding your case, which means your lawyer must respond quickly to every one of your emails, phone calls, and text messages.

Provides a Free Case Evaluation

You want to work with a civil rights lawyer who schedules a free case evaluation. During the free case evaluation, the attorney sitting across from you must provide you with a realistic analysis of your case. Civil rights cases are notoriously difficult to win due to the legal requirements associated with proving a claim. An honest attorney with integrity will provide you with an in-depth analysis that determines whether your case is worth pursuing at trial.

Collects and Organizes Evidence

You do not want your civil rights case to come down to your version of events against the defendant’s version of events. Hard evidence is what separates the winners from the losers in civil rights cases. An experienced civil rights lawyer understands how to gather and organize the evidence you need to win a lawsuit. Hard evidence includes employment records, landlord-tenant lease agreements, and the guidelines to prevent sexual harassment as outlined in an employee manual.

Be Proactive by Contacting Morgan & Morgan

Litigating a civil rights case involves a considerable amount of investigative work. Your attorney should interview witnesses, as well as request the types of documents that confirm an employer, a landlord, or a law enforcement agency violated your civil rights. At Morgan & Morgan, our team of civil rights attorneys conducts exhaustive investigations into every civil rights case.

Schedule a free case evaluation today with a civil rights lawyer from Morgan & Morgan.

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