When discussing various legal options with a client, specifically when there is a possibility of a lawsuit, whether the other side will pay the client’s attorneys’ fees is typically within the top 10 questions clients ask me.  The answer to this question is a resounding, “It depends!”

Generally speaking, reasonable attorneys’ fees may be awarded by a judge to the prevailing party in a lawsuit in two situations: When the basis of the lawsuit is over a contract (or a breach of contract) and the contract contains an attorneys’ fees provision; or when allowed by state law for the specific type of lawsuit. These are two very limited situations.  Because of this, many lawsuits will end without an award of attorneys’ fees to the prevailing party. 

In the cases where a lawsuit ends with an award of attorneys’ fees, more often than not, the award of attorneys’ fees is much less than the total cost of attorneys’ fees incurred by the winning party in the lawsuit.  The reason is that a judge must award “reasonable” attorneys’ fees.  The term “reasonable” is at the judge’s discretion and often means an award of attorneys’ fees considerably less than what was charged by the prevailing party’s attorney. 

Considering this and the fact that filing a lawsuit is a serious matter, often taking years to resolve, it is important to evaluate your financial ability to proceed with a lawsuit (not relying on an award of attorneys’ fees) and discuss with your attorney the options to resolve your legal matter outside of a lawsuit. It is important to realize that you may not only be required to pay your attorneys’ fees, but you may be required to pay the other party’s attorneys’ fees if you lose the lawsuit.  Anyone considering litigation of their legal matter and the above issues should contact the Chilina Law Firm or another law firm focusing on litigation for legal advice.

Authored by Greg Chilina and Co-Authored by Karen Chilina

Chilina Law Firm, a Professional Corporation, is a full-service estate planning, probate, trust administration, business law, and real property law firm that provides a wide-range of advising, transactional, and litigation services to its clients from its office located in Atascadero, California. The firm’s attorneys represent individuals and business entities in an assortment of transactional and litigation matters involving estate planning (including trusts, wills, powers of attorney, and medical directives), probate, trust administration, as well as general business law, contracts, corporate governance, land use, and real property. Chilina Law can be contacted by telephone at (805) 538-5038 or by email atinfo@chilinalaw.comor visit the Chilina Law Firm at www.chilinalaw.com. Chilina Law Firm is based in Atascadero, California and serves North San Luis Obispo County communities, including Santa Margarita, Atascadero, Templeton, Paso Robles, and San Miguel.

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