We are firm believers in transparency about legal costs and charging.
We have always published our standard hourly charge rates on our website. Our clients are our customers and we believe that they should be as well informed as possible.
We aim to provide as much information as is reasonable to assist clients to understand how we charge and where our charges sit within the legal market.
We are not the cheapest and we are not the most expensive. We would hope that clients would choose to instruct us because they are satisfied that we will provide them with the best value together with an outstanding service.
Value is not just a monetary outcome. We believe that value is something that is wider and encompasses trying to assist the client with the best journey through to a fair conclusion of their legal problem. Value also encompasses the legal process and its resolution causing as little damage as is reasonably possible to relevant family relationships and in particular to any relevant children.
Broad cost guidance and published information
It is impossible to estimate the costs of a particular case before meeting a clients and gaining an understanding of the issue which they need to be resolved.
It is however possible to publish cost guidance to assist a client to decide which solicitors they wish to shortlist. Essentially this can consist of standard hourly rate charges and perhaps broad information about typical costs in types of case. Cost guidance can also include articles like this which inform about how costs are calculated.
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Broad cost guidance – Hourly rates
Understanding a law firms hourly rates will help a client with their shortlisting of potential lawyers. As a piece of information a degree of caution needs to be applied.
The overall cost of the case will be heavily influenced by the hourly rate, but it will be more influenced by the approach that the lawyer takes to the case. A case will always be cheaper if it can be resolved through sensible and purposeful negotiation in comparison to a long and highly contentious court process. Therefore a potential client needs to understand the values of the lawyers and the commitment to out-of-court negotiation. The client also needs to consider the expertise of the particular lawyer. Naturally, the charge rates for more experience lawyers tend to be higher.
However, larger, more regional/national practices tend to charge more than smaller practices. This does not mean that they are better lawyers. Indeed lawyers often move around different firms during the course of their career and almost all of our team have worked in more corporate practices which will have a higher charging structure to our own.
Our charge rates are not the cheapest. They are not the most expensive either. We believe that they are reasonable and they either compare favourably to or sit comfortably within the spectrum of firms to whom we would wish to be compared. We have a larger and more experienced team than most practices in our area. We also have the advantage of being a firm of specialists.
Cautious Cost Estimate after initial meeting
At the initial meeting the client will tell the lawyer about their case.
At this stage it is possible to provide a cautious cost estimate.
This cost estimate will be broad. As the case progresses the cost estimate will change and the estimate should narrow. At this stage however, whilst we will now have some knowledge about the case – we still need to know more. We need to understand our own client better and we also need to understand the position of the other party and the approach of their lawyer.
If the other party instructs a particularly litigious or unhelpful or even incompetent lawyer – this is likely to limit the case process options and add to the overall costs. On the other hand, if the other party instructs a good lawyer who is also open to sensible and constructive negotiation – this should assist in finding the best way forward – which will also keep costs down.
Better Cost Estimate and possibility of fixed fee
Once we have a better idea of the work that needs to be done and the potential barriers to achieving a reasonable settlement, we should be able to update the cost estimate so that the range of potential costs is narrower. In most cases we should also be able to offer a fixed fee.
In order to offer a reasonable fixed fee we will need to carefully work out the work that needs to be done under the fixed fee so that our client and ourselves are both very clear as to what is and is not included. This scoping of the fixed fee is very important.
Many clients would like to have the pricing certainty which a fixed fee provides. We are happy to assist. But the fixed fee will be specific to the case and can only be worked out when we have enough information to do this properly.
Updating estimates as case progresses
As a case progresses we will update the cost estimate/cost information at least every six months. If the case takes an unexpected turn and the costs may exceed the current cost estimate we will update the cost estimate as soon we are able to.
Ultimately the level of the final fees will only be known when the case gets to an end. We would always hope that these would be comfortably within the parameters of our cautious cost estimate.
What we will avoid is to give a wildly optimistic initial cost estimate to try and win work which will ultimately be exceeded.
If client speaks to more than one solicitor before deciding who to instruct it is likely that the cost estimates that they will be given will vary. This is inevitable. No one knows at the outset what the final cost will be and everyone will be giving an estimate.
We would hope that like ourselves any other solicitors who the client speaks to will be giving realistic cautious cost estimates. However, if a client has spoken to another solicitor and their initial cost estimate differs substantially from our own – we will always be very happy to discuss this. As discussed above cost estimates and standard hourly charging rates are one factor that a client will take into account, but they should not be the only factors. Other factors should be the solicitor’s expertise and their approach and ability to guide their client through their family law dispute to a conclusion in a positive and family-focused way. Service levels should also be considered.
Transparency is important and we are very happy to discuss charges and fees at any stage in your case.