What should my lawyer tell me about costs?

You've got the right to be told up-front about the cost of any legal service you use. Legal regulators require lawyers regulated by them to be clear and open with their clients about cost information.

Depending on what you're in the market for, you might find some lawyers who offer fixed 'one-off' prices to cover all the work they are going to carry out for you. You often find fixed fees for services like conveyancing if you buy or sell a house. In other cases lawyers might instead give you a breakdown up-front of how they will charge you for the work. This could include information about how the total bill will be calculated, or  information about what they charge per hour.

Depending on your situation lawyers can advise you about different payment options for your legal services, before you decide which option works best for you.

Check before you sign

Don't be afraid to ask questions about any information you are given about costs before you sign up with a lawyer. Make sure you are happy with what they are proposing. That way you will know what to expect.

Keep in the loop

Remember as well that at any time you can ask your lawyer to update you about the legal costs so far. That should help you to make sure everything's on track. Make sure you keep a record of any emails, letters and phone calls from your lawyer, including any where you agree for your lawyer to carry out additional pieces of work for you and the costs of this.

Making a list

To put all this into practice Legal Choices recommends taking a look at the Legal Ombudsman's guide ten questions to ask your lawyer about costs. These questions can help you get a fair deal without any big surprises at the end. You might want to use the Legal Ombudsman's guide to put together your own checklist of key things you want to ask your lawyer when you first start talking to them.