Drew Peterson Starts Legal Fees Fund: How Much Do Lawyers Cost?

Posted on Dec 11, 2007 in Courts, National Issues

drew_peterson1.jpgToday, Drew Peterson announced that he has created a website with a fund, established for those who would like to help him pay his legal fees.  AP reports that the site includes the following language (the site itself, www.defenddrew.com, shows “account has been suspended” as of the date of this post):

“For the cost of a few cups of your morning coffee, you can help to ensure that Drew can afford to support his ongoing legal defense, find his missing wife, and divert any remaining funds into a trust for his children.”

According to Peterson’s attorney, money that is collected will be used to pay not only for attorneys’ fees, but also for a private investigator to find Stacy, and anything left over will go into a trust fund for Drew’s four children. 

How much do lawyers cost?  How much would Drew Peterson need to collect here? 

It all depends.  Drew Peterson comes as a client with a huge media factor, as well as a messy criminal defense case:  with the 3d wife’s investigation, Peterson’s lawyer is essentially dealing with two criminal defense matters — Kathleen’s death and Stacy’s disappearance.   Complicated cases cost more. 

Fees differ from region to region across the country, but it’s reasonable to expect that lead counsel in the Peterson case should command $300+ an hour, and this doesn’t include needed help from his associate attorneys ($200+ an hour), top-flight experts in a variety of related fields to educate the laywers as well as those who will testify ($500+ an hour), and needed professional support (private investigators, legal assistants, etc.).

The OJ Simpson trial cost Los Angeles County $9,000,000 – the Dream Team has never revealed how much their costs totalled, and you can bet it was at least double the County’s price tag.  (This is very conservative — think of the number of lawyers that sat at the table, much less all the working grunts back at the law offices, preparing documents and briefs and witnesses for the upcoming days’ work.)

Drew Peterson’s criminal defense will cost in the millions.  He doesn’t have it?  Look to the criminal defense firm to ask for a high retainer (he’ll have to cash out all that he owns), as well as signing over media rights (book deals, movie rights), handing over anything he has of value (yes, this is where those guns he’s wanted back could be headed) and trying to find creative ways to fund their costs.  Like a website, with a fund, payable thru PayPal.

One last thing:  looks like they’re expecting an arrest, if the defense team is gearing up like this.   �

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