Is a more expensive attorney necessarily mean a better lawyer?
Wills and Living Wills Lawyer
This is pretty difficult to answer. I have seen retainers starting at several hundred dollars up to several thousand with hourly rates similarly spread out. What is true, however, is that a more expensive attorney does not always guarantee a better attorney. In general, the more complex your case the more it is going to cost to resolve. If you have children or a fair amount of property that needs to be divided, and you can not agree on the general parameters for doing so, then you can expect to pay more both in terms of a retainer and and hourly rate. In the end, being comfortable with your attorney and having a confidence in their approach will go a long way in determining how much your are willing to pay. Shop around, meet with several even if you have to pay a consultation fee, and find the one that presents the best value to you.
Divorce / Separation Lawyer
There is no way to answer this question, although generally speaking more experienced attorneys have higher hourly rates and require larger retainers. Also, attorneys in the Baltimore-DC Metro area are typically higher than our counterparts in the rural areas. Bottom line: Your starting in the right place. You should review more than just an attorney's bio on his/her web page; look at an attorneys portfolio on AVVO, for example, and see if that attorney has responded to questions that may fit the needs of your case; ask for references, etc. Then decide whether the rate and retainer seem to be commensurate with his/her experience.
Please be advised that this response does not constitute "legal advice," nor does it create an attorney-client relationship. You should seek counsel of an attorney before taking any actions or deciding not to take any actions.
Family Law Attorney
Of course the answer is: it depends. However the average retainer is $2500-7500. The average hourly rates are $200 to $450.
Higher rates are generally based upon more experience and/or reputation. You can look up attorneys on Maryland Judiciary Case Search and classify their cases based upon case type, to see how many divorces they have handled, for example. In my opinion, hourly rate is only one factor to consider, and a lower hourly rate may not mean more value, just as a higher hourly rate does not mean more value either.
Fred A. Cohen, Esq.