How inflation may affect your legal fees
Paying your legal fees
Relevant across multiple law types
As we all know inflation is rising dramatically and affecting many areas of life.
This includes legal fees. Solicitors employ people who need to be paid and occupy offices where rents are going up, so the cost of using a solicitor is inevitably going to rise.
What can you do about it? We have a website that is designed to help you find the lawyers that might be best for you. It allows you to access information about all the solicitor’s firms in England and Wales and it’s free to use. It also contains a wealth of information on how to get the best out of your relationship with your solicitors including getting value for money out of your legal fees.
Solicitors are also now required by their Regulator to publish prices about certain areas of work such as conveyancing and probate on their websites. So, you can look to get an idea of what the solicitor is likely to charge before you speak to one.
When you do contact a solicitor for the first time you need an open conversation about fees and to come away from it with a clear idea of what the charges will be and how they will be calculated. Sometimes it is not possible to give a definitive fee because the case might involve complex litigation, but most solicitors should be able to give you estimates of what’s involved and the likely charges at various stages.
Many solicitors now offer fixed fees for certain services, but it is important to be clear about what the fee includes and what may be extra. You also need to distinguish between a fixed fee, which should not change, and an estimate that may. Our site has further information and guidance on those matters.
It may be worth shopping around and speaking to several solicitors before you choose who to use. In legal services as so much in life cheapest is not always best. When using a solicitor, it important to feel comfortable with them, that you can trust them and understand their advice. So, matters like communication can become more important than price.
If you are comparing one solicitor’s prices with another, make sure that you are comparing like for like services. Do they both include VAT for example? Do they include disbursements, which are additional amounts which must be paid out as well as part of the transaction, such as Land Registry or court fees?
Generally, but not always, solicitors in large cities are more expensive than those in other areas because rents and other costs are higher. Generally, but not always, firms in London are more expensive than ones in the regions, for similar reasons. In many legal transactions you don’t need to see the solicitor in person so you may not need someone local. However, that may be more important to you, with something very personal like a divorce. So, where you solicitor is based and whether you want to see them in person may have an impact on price.
How much of their time you use will also have an impact. Most solicitors charge by time, because their time and expertise are what they sell, Meetings are usually quicker by telephone or video call, and you need to think carefully what you want out of your contact with your solicitor before you speak to them. If the solicitor is charging by the hour, one way of keeping the bills down is to have focused discussions about your case, answering the questions you want answered. You don’t want to be paying a solicitor to discuss the football scores with you!
We have lots of useful guidance available on our site around paying fees, including an article that covers the possibility of using legal expense insurance to cover your fees and also if you are thinking of borrowing money to pay your legal fees. You can also use our site to search for a solicitor who is regulated and specialises in your area of law, without ever being required to provide any of your personal data.