How much does a lawyer cost?
Everything you need to know…
Let’s address those pricing questions that other legal practices are avoiding.
How much does legal support and advice cost? We’re glad you asked…
Hiring a lawyer is a major decision and can be a significant investment. Many clients go in to the process having little or no idea what the overall cost will be, and how those costs are broken down.
At Ezra Legal, we prioritise honesty and a straight-forward approach to legal advice. We want to provide transparent answers to all of your questions so you can feel confident about the legal service that you’re buying.
But some of these questions aren’t so easy to answer. One of those is “How much do legal services cost?”
Unfortunately, very little about the law is straight-forward. Every legal situation is different with varying degrees of complexity, with unique factors determining the final price.
However, we’re going to take you through the key factors that affect the pricing of legal services, so hopefully you can have an idea of what to expect (and how to save) before you engage one of our lawyers.
By the end of this article, you’ll be prepared to make a decision that’s right for you, and avoid the confusion and fear that can come with worrying about the cost.
What type of service do you need?
The type of legal service that you need combined with the complexity and duration of that service will greatly impact on the price that you’ll pay. Some legal services, like conveyancing and preparing a Will, are charged at a fixed price. That is, no matter how much time our lawyers spend on these matters, the final price will remain at a fixed amount, which will be clearly explained to you before work on your matter begins.
The price of resolving a legal dispute, however, can vary from $400-$500 to $100,000+ depending on the amount of time that is dedicated to the matter.
Key factors that influence pricing of legal services
The main factors influencing the price of legal services are (a) expertise and (b) time.
Level of Expertise
Hourly rates vary depending on the level of experience and expertise of the lawyer(s) involved. Typically, pricing will increase if you engage a higher level of legal expertise, such as Special Counsel rather than Law Clerk, because more experienced lawyers will charge for their time at a higher hourly rate.
Time spent on Matter
Because lawyers typically charge for their services on a time cost basis, as time on your Matter increases, so the price will go up.
Lawyers generally charge by units of time. Fees charged for services are the product of the hours worked divided into units of time, multiplied by the hourly rates of the legal practitioners and other specified persons who did the work. Most legal practices would charge on units of 6 minutes.
In addition to fees, lawyers charge you for the out-of-pocket expenses incurred or paid on your behalf (called disbursements). Typical out-of-pocket expenses incurred by lawyers include fees of barristers, experts, agents, Courts, couriers, printing, Government and local authorities’ fees, international and mobile telephone calls, postage (including express post and registered post), for searches (e.g. company, land title, credit, personal property securities etc) and the retrieval of files from our archiving facility are charged at the cost to us.
Ways to save
Fortunately, legal practices can offer several opportunities to save. One way is to bundle your services. For example, a married or de facto couple instructing Ezra Legal to prepare their Will would receive a significant saving if their Enduring Power of Attorney and Advanced Care Directive were completed at the same time.
Another way to save is to use our junior staff for less complex work, such as Law Clerks, Paralegals and junior lawyers.
The efficient management of your matter will also impact on the price you’ll pay. Choosing a mid-tier legal practice like Ezra Legal, that will stay on top of your file, who charges fairly for their time, and who isn’t under undue pressure to charge for their time, can make a big difference to your legal costs.
Ok – but how much can I really expect to pay?
As we said, the price of legal services can range greatly depending on a number of factors, especially when comparing a fixed-price service such as the preparation of a Will to a high-risk legal dispute involving hundreds of documents, multiple lawyers and many hours of work. But we do want to give you a more tangible idea of what you can expect to pay.
Before you take the below numbers as gospel, we want to preface them by saying, we’ve been providing legal services for decades and things still surprise us every day.
We’re providing a wide range of what legal services typically cost, but it’s totally possible that your quote could fall outside of these ranges.
Terms of Engagement
Where fees are likely to exceed $1,500, we will write to you formally setting out our Terms of Engagement. This letter will provide a summary of:
- The scope of the legal work that you require us to undertake;
- An estimate of our Fees (in the form of a range). The Cost Estimate is just that, a preliminary estimate. It is not a quote or a fixed maximum charge. The actual costs will be based on the work actually done and the expenses actually incurred. Disbursements do not form part of the estimate of legal costs and will be in addition to legal costs;
- Any major variables that may affect the Cost Estimate;
- Details of the lawyer who will be leading the work on your Matter;
- The Fees Rates of our lawyers.
Exceed Fee Estimate Notification
If your legal costs look like they are going to go over our original estimate, we will write to you to advise you of this, setting out our estimate of further fees.
How much does conveyancing cost?
From $700 upwards (depending on the size of the asset purchase price)
How much does estate planning cost?
Our prices range from $150 for an Enduring Power of Attorney up to $1,500 for a Testamentary Will
How much does litigation cost?
Depending on many factors, you can generally expect the cost of litigation to fall somewhere between a few thousand dollars up to $100,000+.
In litigation matters, our Cost Estimate will only refer to the costs we charge you. In addition, in these matters the Court may order you to pay other moneys, including some or all of the costs of other parties.
If successful in your action, you may have rights to recover some of your costs from another party or parties. However, in our experience the cost recovery is not likely to cover the whole of your legal costs. Typically, it is likely to be no more than 50% to 70% of the costs we charge you. You will have to meet the difference in these costs from your own pocket.
On the flip-side, if you are unsuccessful, you may be liable to pay the costs of other parties to the litigation in addition to our costs. We would estimate these may be between 80% to 110% of the amount of your own legal costs.