We have discussed the difference between a court appointed attorney and a hired attorney briefly in previous articles.  But, today, we seek to give you some quick facts for your to reference when you are deciding whether to hire a lawyer or whether to go with the court appointed.

A Court Appointed Lawyer Makes $140 For the Entire Lawsuit


  • Appointed Lawyers make $140.00 on misdemeanor cases no matter how many times they appear for your case.  This means, an appointed lawyer will often want to get rid of the case as soon as possible, to make the most of the $140.00.  This potential for appointed lawyers to rush will harm your case strategy.  As you know, all good things take time.  If an attorney spends the time our firm usually spends on a case, at $140.00 flat rate, the firm would make far under minimum wage.  Here is proof of at least one guy not getting proper service from an appointed lawyer.
  • Hired Lawyers usually make about $2000-$4000 per misdemeanor case.  The income per case is vastly different.
  • Appointed Lawyers have the same schooling requirements as hired lawyers, but often have less experience.  Usually the cost of the lawyer in some way corresponds with the experience of the lawyer.  A well seasoned lawyer will not accept $140 to handle an entire lawsuit, unless it is for a charity cause or done as a favor of sorts.  I suppose there always may be exceptions to the rule.
  • Appointed lawyers can make up to $500 for a case, if it actually goes to trial.  Most trial lawyers will do weeks of work for a jury trial case, and cannot afford to do that kind of work for %500.00

My Advice on Court Appointed Lawyers for misdemeanor cases:  Do not accept the services of a court appointed lawyer

Where once the pay scale for these attorneys was enough to compensate the lawyer, now the pay scale motivates rushed, sloppy lawyer work, if you can call it lawyer work.  Appointed lawyers at this pay rate, are more like glorified plea deal coaches. Instead, hire a lawyer that takes payment plans.  Your case is a huge investment into your life opportunities and your criminal record.

BUT, Felony Court Appointed Lawyer Services Are Worth Considering

Unlike misdemeanor cases, appointed felony cases pay the local attorneys enough money, so that the attorney can afford to do a proper job.  Many highly respected lawyers in Bexar County, accept felony court appointments.  If you are indigent, and need a good attorney, it is certainly okay to consider the appointed attorney you are given.  If the relationship does not turn out, you can always fire your lawyer, and hire a person of your choosing.

Here, you can find a similar perspective as this article from another attorney.

A Final Note

In my opinion, paying a court appointed attorney $140 flat rate for an entire lawsuit is the constructive equivalent as denying a person’s constitutional right to have an attorney.  Having an attorney that has to essentially pay to represent a person, is often as good as having no attorney at all.  This payment scale is insulting to the legal professional and to the citizens that need good legal service.