How Much Do Israeli Lawyers Charge?
The answer is complex. Depends mostly on (a) what sort of case it is and; (b) who the lawyer and the client are. Let us go through this briefly.
Non-financial cases are usually fixed price. This will include administrative petitions (to the Supreme Court sitting as the High Court of Justice “Bagats”), injunctions and other non-quantifiable cases. Difficult to say how much you should spend – anything between 1,000 sheqel per court appearance to thousands of sheqel for the whole case.
Criminal cases are also non-financial. There is a rule that a lawyer may not receive a fee in a criminal case contingent upon the result ie acquittal. The highest fees can be as much as 500,000 sheqel the lowest can be as little as 1,000 sheqel. For a regular case involving work which will include reading the evidence, a few court appearances, a meeting at the prosecution eg a small drugs case or not too serious domestic violence expect to pay +/- 20,000 sheqel.
Personal injury, including traffic and work accidents are generally a percentage, +/- 15% is acceptable. But by law traffic cases must be 8, 11 or13% (if settled before getting to court, settled in court or full judgement, respectively).
Other financial cases, labour claims or breach of contract including consumer claims, will often be mixed. Expect to pay some money up front and then a percentage of the win; about 10-20% is normal or even 30% if there is no money upfront. Often there is a separate fee for court appearances. Some lawyers take a non-returnable fee which is an advance on the win.
Another factor is the lawyer’s evaluation of your chances of winning – a higher percentage if the lawyer thinks you have good chances, more up front if bad! Lawyers must charge their expenses and VAT separately. Most lawyers waive simple expenses like postage or paper, some expenses can be substantial like doctors’ reports or foreign travel and you will be charged for these.
That leaves non-contentious (no court) cases, mostly drafting contracts and giving legal advice. For a contract for the buying or selling of land, expect to pay about 1/2% of the value of the property. This is very negotiable! Always bargain. If the lawyer represents both sides then he or she will ask for 3/4%, again you need to haggle. For rental contracts lawyers often take about 50% of one month’s rent, this is also negotiable.
For commercial and other contracts, lawyers charge about 2% of the value of the contract, this percentage will go down as the contract is of higher value (because the amount of work involved is the same).
General legal advice, written or not, depends a lot on the lawyer: 500 NIS to 5,000 NIS is a rough estimate. Proper written legal counsel, should be more expensive.
Remember: legal advice is only worth the money you spend. Pay cheap you get cheap. Be wary of cut price lawyers, They are not worth the saving. Traditionally Israeli lawyers quoted prices in US dollars but this is less fashionable. Remember that your lawyer’s price tag will rarely include VAT, currently at 15.5%. Always check if VAT is included or not.
Look here for the Bar’s recommendation for the minimal tariff (thought to be over-priced now). Never take on a lawyer or pay any money at all unless you are given a written fee agreement, this is most important but unfortunately not compulsory. I am a member of the South District Ethics Committee and I see the messes lawyers make because there was no fee agreement!
Law in Israel
שאול דיוויס עו”ד