What does it cost?
Most lawyers' charges are based on the amount of time they spend on your case. They usually charge in 6 minute units based on an hourly rate. For example, if the hourly rate is £100 per hour, then every 6 minute unit spent is charged at £10. The hourly rate will vary from practice to practice, and is dependent on the lawyer's qualifications and experience. As a general rule the more experienced the lawyer the higher their charge out rate. All time is charged for, which includes time spent in meetings with you, telephone calls, emails and faxes made and received, preparation, research and drafting time as well as letters sent.
All Solicitors' practices must set out in writing details of how they calculate their charges and if possible they should provide an estimate. An estimate is a guide price and as such is not fixed. Sometimes it is possible to provide a service at a fixed price, for example for the preparation of a simple will.
You may wish to set a limit on the charges and then when the costs reach the limit, you can decide what to do. This allows you to regularly review the time being spent and how your case is progressing.
Most of the work undertaken by SFE members does not qualify for Legal Aid. However, if the matter relates to community care, mental health, deprivation of liberty, public law issues or welfare benefits, help may be available if the firm you have selected has a contract with the Legal Services Commission for work in this area. To qualify for legal aid, you must be on a low income and your case must be merit worthy.