May 2, 2024

How Much Do Lawyers Charge for an LLC

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Lawyers can charge you up to $3000+ in fees. But hourly rates can be as low as $150/hr. Read on for the full pricing.

How Much Do Lawyers Charge for an LLC?

Legal fees can quickly add up, so it's a significant concern for any business. But once you understand the payment types and lawyer services, it can be easier to budget more effectively.

Keep reading to learn what these fees are, what services they cover for LLCs, and how they can impact your business.

Are you planning to hire a lawyer to help in your LLC setup?

Payment Types and Average Cost

Legal professionals typically use four payment structures: hourly, fixed, retainer, and contingency. Here's a detailed explanation of each type of payment and its potential impact on your finances.

Hourly Rate

Average Hourly Fee: $150 to $350 per hour

Business lawyers typically bill clients using an hourly rate. Billable hours include time spent working directly for the client, which can include a brief phone call or email for LLC formation inquiries.

The average hourly rate for small business lawyers may vary from state to state. For example, if your LLC is in West Virginia, you could pay $150 per hour. But if your LLC is in Washington D.C., you could pay around $350 per hour.

That said, hourly billing can be more affordable for your LLC if the workload is short-term. It's especially affordable if your case gets resolved quickly.

Ask if you'll also pay for paralegal fees.
Paralegals are legal assistants who perform a wide range of backend work to help your case run smoothly. Your LLC attorney needs to inform you whether the hourly rate includes the services of one or more legal assistants.

Flat Fee

Average Flat Fee: $500 to $2,000

In contrast to hourly billing, a flat fee is a one-time predetermined total amount that you have to pay in exchange for legal services.

An LLC attorney might charge you a flat fee if the workload is well-defined and routine. For example, forming an LLC in a particular state with a standard Operating Agreement often follows a well-established process.

Accepting a flat fee billing can be advantageous for your LLC because it gives predictability and budgeting certainty. You know exactly how much you will pay upfront, making it easier to budget for your LLC's legal expenses.

Does a flat fee mean it's a package deal?
It depends on the specific terms of your agreement. A flat fee for LLC formation may include:

  • Consultation with the lawyer to discuss your business needs and goals
  • Preparation and filing of the Articles of Organization with the state
  • Drafting a standard Operating Agreement
  • Obtaining an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS

Retainer Fee

Average Retainer Fee: $500 to $3,000

If you want to secure your lawyer's services for a specific period, you might have to pay a retainer fee. It's a deposit so you won't risk your lawyer being unavailable when you need legal assistance.

If your LLC requires occasional legal consultations, advice, or support on various matters, a retainer can secure ongoing access to your lawyer's expertise without incurring hourly charges.

Additionally, the retainer fee can be used by the lawyer to pay for initial expenses while working on your case.

There's no maximum limit for retainer fees.
There's no strict limit to what a lawyer can charge. However, attorneys must follow ethical guidelines that say they have to charge reasonable and fair prices.[1]

Contingency Fee

Average Contingency Fee: 25% to 40% of the award

You only pay the contingency fee if the lawyer wins the case. Otherwise, they don't get paid for their work.

With a contingency fee, LLCs with limited budgets can access legal representation for serious disputes without upfront costs. The lawyer takes on the financial risk of the case in exchange for a share of the potential winnings.

If your LLC has been wronged and has a high chance of winning a lawsuit, a contingency fee can be advantageous.

Can all business lawyers ask for a contingency fee?
Contingency fees are generally only allowed in specific types of cases, such as personal injury, employment law, and certain contract disputes. Each state has its specific regulations regarding contingency fees.

Apart from fee structures, other factors affect how much lawyers will charge you. The most common factors that affect lawyer's fees for an LLC are discussed below.

Factors That Affect Lawyer Fees

Key elements that affect your lawyer's fees include:

  • Location
    Legal services in business-centric cities like New York or San Francisco will typically be more expensive than in smaller towns or rural areas.

  • Expertise and experience
    Seasoned lawyers with extensive experience and a proven track record of success typically charge higher fees for their skills and established reputation.

  • Case complexity
    Straightforward tasks, like reviewing an existing operating agreement, will cost less than a trial preparation.

  • Law firm overhead
    Larger law firms with significant operating costs and staff may need to charge higher fees to cover their expenses.

Compare fees from different lawyers in your area.
Talk to different lawyers about your LLC's requirements before hiring anyone. If you negotiate correctly, many are open to discussing rates and adjusting them to fit your budget and specific needs.

How did you determine if the lawyer fees were reasonable for your LLC setup?

LLC Formation Lawyer Services

While forming an LLC might seem straightforward, consulting a lawyer early on can save you time, money, and potential legal headaches down the line.

If you're a first-time business owner, you might want to hire a lawyer for LLC formation to perform the following services:

  • Legal Advice
    A lawyer can help you choose the right state for your LLC based on your business goals. Together, you can perform the legal steps to get your business up and running.

  • LLC Registration
    A lawyer can fill out and submit your LLC's formation documents, including the Articles of Organization and Statement of Information.

  • Operating Agreement
    If your LLC has complex business rules, a lawyer can draft an operating agreement that follows state laws while tailored to suit your business needs.

  • Business Permits and Licenses
    Lawyers can handle the entire application process for permits and licenses. This includes filling out complex forms, gathering the necessary documentation, and ensuring timely submissions to respective authorities.

A lawyer will most likely charge a flat fee for drafting a standard operating agreement. But expect an hourly rate for more comprehensive services like checking business name availability, getting an EIN, and applying for all necessary permits and licenses

Consider getting online legal services.
Some attorneys offer online services to help you form your LLC. This could be a cheaper alternative compared to hiring a lawyer from a big firm.

LLC Maintenance Lawyer Services

After formation, you might still need a business lawyer to maintain your LLC. There may be legal requirements your business needs to meet to remain compliant.

That said, you may need a lawyer for:

  • Registered Agent Services
    A lawyer can be your LLC's registered agent. They'll act as the official point of contact for your LLC and will receive legal documents, government notices, and lawsuits.

  • Annual Reports
    An annual report provides updated information about your LLC to the state. A lawyer can help fill out accurate details and submit it on time to avoid penalties and fines.

  • Tax Compliance
    Tax laws and regulations change frequently. Lawyers can review your tax returns to ensure accuracy and identify potential errors or missed deductions.

  • Annual review of legal documents
    You may need a lawyer to review your operating agreement and update the agreement with new terms. This is especially important if there are major changes in your LLC.

If you're hiring a lawyer to help maintain the good standing of your LLC, a retainer fee payment type may be acceptable.

This lets you enjoy ongoing legal support if you need an operating agreement reviewed immediately. Or if you need advice about a possible tax audit.

LLC Lawyer vs. Registered Agent Services
Registered agent services receive legal documents on behalf of your LLC. Although they are typically cheaper compared to lawyer fees, they don't have the legal expertise and qualifications to provide legal advice.

Additional LLC Lawyer Services

The following services are not commonly needed by small businesses. However, you might consider hiring a lawyer to get these done for your LLC in the future:

  • Trademark/Intellectual Property
    Lawyers can conduct thorough searches to see if your potential trademark is already in use. This minimizes the risk of infringement claims and legal battles.

  • Legal Disputes
    If your LLC gets involved in a legal dispute, a lawyer can represent you in court and fight for your rights.

  • Business Expansion
    You might consider opening a new shop in another state. If this happens, a lawyer can handle the specific state's foreign LLC requirements.

Lawyers will typically charge a contingency fee before accepting to work on your LLC's legal disputes. But before agreeing, understand the lawyer's experience and track record in handling similar cases.

In addition, forming an LLC in a state other than your home state is generally more complicated. So, hiring a lawyer with local legal expertise saves you valuable time and energy.

Bottom Line

There are varying fee structures for legal services. Choose the one that best suits your needs:

  • Hourly rates: $150 to $350/hr for short-term workloads

  • Flat fees: $500 to $2,000 for well-defined/routine services

  • Retainer fees: $500 to $3,000 for occasional legal support

  • Contingency fees: 25% to 40% of the award if you need to win a lawsuit

Many factors influence these fees, like your location and the lawyer's expertise. The type of legal service you need will also dictate the price.

Now that you've read this guide, you should be more equipped to prepare a budget. This way, you know if you can maintain the cost of hiring a lawyer for your LLC.

How much did you expect to pay in lawyer fees for your LLC?


  1. ^ American Bar Association. Rule 1.5: Fees, Retrieved 02/19/2024

Nicole King is a research analyst at CreditDonkey, a business formation services comparison and reviews website. Write to Nicole King at Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for our latest posts.

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How Much Does It Cost to Form an LLC?

Forming an LLC can be the next step for your business. But how much will it cost? Read on to learn about the different LLC formation fees.
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