Discussing your solicitors' fees

 

In your initial meeting with your solicitor you should discuss what your solicitor's fees are and how these will be payable. Your discussions with your solicitor about fees and costs might cover the following topics:

  • How will the solicitor bill you?

Will the solicitor bill on an hourly basis or charge you a fixed fee for the work? Is the work to be carried out on a 'no-win, no-fee' (Conditional Fee Agreement) basis or will you have to provide an initial payment on account of costs?

  • Which costs/disbursements will be passed on to you?

Will you have to pay for copying costs? How much per page?
Will you be responsible for electronic research charges?
Make sure you and the solicitor agree which costs you will pay and at what rate you will pay them.

  • What will the case cost?

The solicitor may not be able to determine the exact amount of time and effort required to handle your case, but should be in a position to give you an estimate of both fees and costs based upon past experience.

  • Frequency and detail:

You should find out how often you will be billed and whether interest or other charges will be added to unpaid amounts. The solicitor's bills should include details of the services provided along with an itemization of costs. If the solicitor is working on a 'no-win, no-fee' basis, find out how often you will be billed for disbursements and when you will receive payment if the case is won.

  • Basic charges:

If the solicitor charges by the hour, you should find out the minimum billing segment. Is it one-quarter or one-tenth of an hour or some other figure? Most often this is done in tenth of an hour segments (i.e. six minutes). You should also find out whether you will be billed for work by others - associates, legal assistants, or paralegals.

  • Control:

How much control will you have over fees and disbursements?
Do you want to be notified after fees and expenses reach a certain amount?
Do you want to be notified before the solicitor incurs an expense over a certain amount?


You might want to take notes during your discussions so you can know what terms you and the solicitor agreed upon. Based on your discussions, you should have what you have agreed to do set out in writing.

The solicitor will generally have pre-printed terms for you to sign. However, if the agreement does not include the terms you discussed with the solicitor, ask the solicitor to change this to what was agreed with you. The agreement should state clearly what you and the solicitor agreed to do.

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