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Are lawyers expensive?

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Are lawyers expensive?

Old 19th Feb 2018, 11:05
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Are lawyers expensive?

I recently instructed a solicitor in the UK to read through a 306 page ducument in relation to a matter in negligence and tort by my previous solicitor. We had a subsequent meeting for about 40 minutes. So the total came to 4 hours work at 220/hr.

I a very happy with the solicitor and he thinks I have a strong case, on that basis I have filed in court (Form N1), I did that to save costs for what is basic administration, as is probate.

So my question is how do solicitors so so much, I know they have overheads such as rates, rent, insurance, law society membership, and salaries tend to be 40,000 to 60,000.

Does anyone have opinions on this?
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Old 19th Feb 2018, 11:51
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Yes; I have an opinion. No; they are usually not are expensive for the work done and the location of their offices.

220 per hour is a low rate for a good lawyer unless they are in a very low income, low cost area of the country. As a Chartered Surveyor doing mainly professional valuation work, I charge myself out at 200 per hour and rarely get moaned about on fees. I have an office, staff, insurance (which is very expensive at about 10% of the fees charged for valuation) and other costs which are necessary before the client even meets the lawyer.

Remember that you are not just paying for the time or all the other costs mentioned, you are paying for the training and experience. A good, experienced, city centre (not London) lawyer in the UK who is not yet a partner should be on close 60,000, otherwise they are no good.

Just like with a pilot; Why pay a captain 100,000+pa when all they do is sit there clicking a few buttons on most flights. But when the chips are down, that experience is vital and that's when the money is earnt.

Last edited by Espada III; 19th Feb 2018 at 12:31.
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Old 19th Feb 2018, 11:52
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Ecce Homo! Loquitur...
 
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Are lawyers expensive?
Yes, but not as expensive as not having one.....
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Old 19th Feb 2018, 12:01
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Originally Posted by ORAC View Post
Yes, but not as expensive as not having one.....


Especially when the consequences could be awful and far more expensive in the long run. A good one can 'force' the other side to see sense or at least think again.....

At 450 an hour, all things considered, mine was a bargain.
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Old 19th Feb 2018, 12:13
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220 per hour is a reasonable rate for a solicitor outside of London.
It's sobering to know that a solicitor dealing with care proceedings, on Legal Aid, is paid 52.57 per hour for attendances and preparation. That same work paid 64.90 ph some years earlier.
I don't think the public realise just how savage were the cuts made to Legal Aid in 2013. Those cuts wiped out Aid for family law ( care proceedings being treated differently ). They truly cut the majority of people from access to justice.
I'm sure the Cameron government took the cynical view that there were no votes in supporting lawyers.
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Old 19th Feb 2018, 12:17
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The first bill you get from a Solicitor in UK will invariably be a hefty overcharge, just to see if you are a big enough sucker to pay it without question. So you send it back, asking for a detailed breakdown of the time charges. They will prevaricate, delay, but eventually you'll get it because they have to give it to you. Now you start, item by item (don't forget that most Solicitors record time in 6-minute units) picking away at it, asking why something took so long, asking for more substantiation, etc etc. Eventually, when you sense that they are getting fed up with you, you gently suggest referring the whole matter to the Law Society for their opinion, with all the documentation they have so far supplied. (Nowadays it might be the Legal Ombudsman, I don't know).

This process usually gets the final agreed sum to between 33% and 50% of the original amount.

One bill I got, about 10 years ago, was in connection with reviewing a standard commercial lease for some offices. All it contained was a single item, "Reviewing lease", with about 14 hours charged at Partner rates. With VAT added, the total was absurdly high.

I asked for the time breakdown, as usual, and the name(s) of the Partners whose time had been used. The response was extremely detailed, showing the 6-minute units used, with the person who had booked the time. Unfortunately the only description of work done was "perusing documents", spread over 2 months in 6-minute multiples.

I looked up the names, and discovered that they had been remarkably honest (I suspect by mistake); 95% of the time was supplied by about 6 different trainee and junior staff.

So I asked for the detail of which document/section/page was being perused for each of the 6-minute segments, and for the charge rates to be amended to those for the staff who did the work.

They prevaricated; "too difficult", "unreasonable" etc etc. This was the moment to suggest the Law Society, whereupon they offered to reduce it to 25% of the original figure. I offered 10%, and they agreed.

Never allow a lawyer to intimidate you.
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Old 19th Feb 2018, 12:33
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If possible get a fixed fee quote before you start or an agreed rate with a cap or warning after so many hours.
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Old 19th Feb 2018, 12:56
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I think it depends on what they are doing. I have always found conveyancing fees quite reasonable, a few hundred pounds to sell a property. Conversely I have appeared in court on three occasions when accused of motoring offences. On two of those I was acquitted and the third I was fined a nominal sum when the magistrates clearly disbelieved the police evidence, effectively awarding the famous one shilling damages.

The first acquittal was when the police prosecuted cases. The third was against a CPS prosecutor. I have no idea what he was paid, but given his pathetic performance whatever he earned it was too much. In that case the evidence offered for a speed camera offence showed a rear view of the car. He said " The picture clearly shows a grey haired man driving, with a blonde lady in the passenger seat". I countered "Well, that's conclusive then, my wife has dark hair". He didn't ask who I was with.
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Old 19th Feb 2018, 13:01
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How to ensure that no solicitor in town will ever work for you again:
Originally Posted by old,not bold View Post
The first bill you get from a Solicitor in UK will invariably be a hefty overcharge, just to see if you are a big enough sucker to pay it without question. So you send it back, asking for a detailed breakdown of the time charges. They will prevaricate, delay, but eventually you'll get it because they have to give it to you. Now you start, item by item (don't forget that most Solicitors record time in 6-minute units) picking away at it, asking why something took so long, asking for more substantiation, etc etc. Eventually, when you sense that they are getting fed up with you, you gently suggest referring the whole matter to the Law Society for their opinion, with all the documentation they have so far supplied.
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Old 19th Feb 2018, 15:01
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Itemised charging can sometimes come to your aid: I had a hefty bill, well over the original estimate, for preparing a will. I was eventually able to tell 'em that I wasn't prepared to pay for their time spent correcting their errors - which were clear failures to follow my written instructions.
That the result included an unnecessarily complicated way of calculating was duly and adversly commented on when I used a different solicitor to bring it up to date - and he charged less (on a flat-rate fee) even though five years had passed.
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Old 19th Feb 2018, 15:28
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Friend of mine has her late mother's probate being handled by a solicitor appointed by her sister - the completed form sent by the solicitor for signature included quite a number of mistakes. My friend sent it back with the corrections marked in red. The form was sent to her again with most of the mistakes still uncorrected. Her sister didn't notice...

Have to say that the solicitor who handled my mother's estate was pretty good - 40 years ago mum worked for one of the solicitors' which had merged to form the present business, wonder if they knew?
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Old 19th Feb 2018, 16:07
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My last (extremely acrimonious) divorce taught me that with solicitors and barristers, much like consumer goods, you get what you pay for by and large. I paid for a partner in a large law practice (circa 200/hour) to handle the preliminary stages and a specialist barrister (circa 2,000/day) for the court proceedings.

Worth every penny in the long run and all the bills were itemised minutely. I was kept informed at all stages throughout the process.

NEO
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Old 19th Feb 2018, 16:09
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Only one firm of solicitors in a town and they will end up going broke, another firm opens up and they both get rich.

American style “no win - no fee” seems to be getting more popular these days and gives you a good idea if your case is worth taking forward or not.

There must be hundreds of people in prison who wish they’d spent a bit more their legal team.
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Old 19th Feb 2018, 16:36
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This is the point a solicitor is a bit like the GP a glorified chemist
Anything complicated and it’s off to a consultant where 400 to 500 an hour can be the benchmark
A good one can be worth every penny and there lies the problem finding a good one
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Old 19th Feb 2018, 17:01
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Originally Posted by Gertrude the Wombat View Post
How to ensure that no solicitor in town will ever work for you again:
Yes, well, you have a point; luckily lawyers breed rapidly here. I'm persona non grata in 5 or 6 large firms, but there are still more than a dozen I haven't annoyed yet, not counting the plethora of small guys bottom-feeding on minor criminal work and claims against the NHS.
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Old 19th Feb 2018, 21:00
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I'm almost ashamed to admit it but my daughter is a lawyer. She specialises in intellectual property rights in what is called the 'music industry'. Now a partner in a small company.
One knows nothing about it all and understands even less. But she and her music producer husband recently bought a nice house in Twickenham.
Son, on the other hand, flies helicopters.
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Old 19th Feb 2018, 21:42
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Any professional only charges you for the time spent on 'your' project - and they may spend time waiting for clients to engage them, so they have to make up by charging higher fees.
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Old 20th Feb 2018, 02:31
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Lawyers are IMHO an unecessary evil. When my son and his wife separated and subsequently divorced, the lawyer acting for his wife had a reputation for stringing out the process to maximise the fees, and every time they got close to an agreement on the split of the marital property, her lawyer would throw some petrol on the fire. What was originally agreed between the pair was a 50/50 split became a demand by her lawyer to a 90/10 split, and the proceedings dragged out an extra two years.

My opinion was her lawyer figured out what share of the marital estate she could get in fees, and kept the case on foot until she got it.



(the lawyer is the one sitting down)

The outcome? A 60/40 split in favour of my son, whose lawyer cost around AUD30K, while the ex copped a bill just shy of AUD200K. The best advice the ex DIL got from her lawyer was to have an initial discussions with quite a few Divorce lawyers known for their ablity, which meant they couldn't act for my son and he had to deal with the lesser knowns.
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Old 20th Feb 2018, 04:50
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I've been known to blame a lawyer for my marriage. He didn't even charge for it. We even invited him to the wedding.
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Old 20th Feb 2018, 06:14
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When I rule the world, laws will be crafted and written in plain, clear language that the common person can understand easily.
Persons who seek to complicate and obscure legal processes will be re-educated as washroom attendants.
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