If you are looking for a solicitor, cost is one of the key factors for most people. Stories abound of expensive lawyers and huge legal bills, so it is little wonder that it is a major worry for anyone faced with a legal problem who has to foot the bill themselves.
There are certain types of legal work which you can get a quote for - eg conveyancing, making a will, getting a lease agreement etc. Most law firms will be able to tell you immediately what these services cost. Conveyancing solicitors, for example, in a straight forward transaction, usually average from £500-£700 for the job but can be cheaper or more expensive. However, any problems with your conveyancing such as leasehold issues or title issues can up the cost and is more difficult to estimate although most solicitors will be able to give you an estimate of the additional costs.
Litigation is more difficult to estimate and solicitors tend to charge by the hour. In some cases litigation solicitors may offer a 'no-win no fee' option eg defamation. This is only if they judge that you have a great chance of success - and they, as a consequence, will receive enhanced fees.
Personal injury solicitors also offer 'no win no fee' arrangements as there is usually an insurance company involved to pay the bill.
Divorce is one of the areas where legal costs can escalate. When disagreements occur between couples, solicitors are generally the ones to benefit and will charge from between £200 to £500 an hour for the privilege. Which is why even divorce solicitors recommend mediation as a first resort for divorcing couples. Many family law firms are now members of mediation schemes and this makes the divorce process a lot cheaper and less painful.
If you are setting up a small business, law firms specialising in commercial law may offer you initial free advice. They are also likely to want your business if they think that you are likely to be a long-term client.
Commercial law advice is usually per hour although increasingly firms are offering alternative billing arrangements. It can start at £250 per hour for a partner in the regions spiralling to £700 for the services of a city law firm.