One of the biggest sources of misunderstanding between solicitors and clients is the matter of how fees are chargeable. Here are some tips on what to look out for in solicitors' fees - and how to avoid disputes about them.
If you are in the process of hiring a solicitor, you can try to use this information to help you obtain legal advice at a reasonable price. If you have already hired a solicitor, you can also check whether you are being overcharged.
The main point is that you will want a solicitor who knows the subject matter of your case inside out, charges reasonable rates, treats you with respect, and with whom you can communicate effectively. Allowing for the fact that no solicitor is cheap, you probably can find solicitors who fit this description all across the price spectrum.
Here are some general rules to keep in mind.
There are no 'set rates' for legal advice
Fees are generally negotiable between clients and solicitors and are based on several factors, including the solicitor's overhead costs, reputation in the field, the type of legal problem, and what other solicitors in the area charge for similar advice.
Occasionally, there may be a "going rate" that most solicitors in a particular area charge for a certain type of work, for example conducting a trademark search, dealing with an eviction, filing for bankruptcy, or drafting a will. But even when most solicitors charge about the same for doing a defined legal task, you'll have no problem finding some solicitors who charge more and can also probably find one who charges less.
Cheap isn't necessarily a good thing
Although everyone wants to save money, the cheapest solicitor is not always necessarily the best solution, especially if your problem is complicated or requires specialised legal experience.
A newly qualified solicitor who charges £150 an hour may end up costing you more than an expert who charges £300 an hour if the more expensive solicitor has greater expertise and experience and provides a better and more efficient service. If the case calls for a seasoned practitioner, the cheaper fee might lead to an expensive disaster.
Expensive isn't necessarily best, either
This being said, this doesn't mean that the more expensive the solicitor is the more efficient or experienced he or she will be. Often, the more expensive solicitors are also selling you the 'brand' or image that comes with their name. You therefore need to consider the complexity of your problem. You probably don't need a sophisticated corporate law firm to draft a straight forward business contract.
It is important to think through all possibilities. We can help you choose the most relevant solicitor for your situation.