Frequently asked questions
Legal services frequently asked questions for small businesses
Q: Is it only worth paying for a lawyer in a time of crisis?
Answer: No. Initial legal advice when setting up a company can save money by helping your business avoid legal problems in the long run.
Q: How much does legal work cost?
Answer: Like with most services, it depends on what you services want and how complex they are. You should always get a quote or estimate before getting advice you have to pay for. You should get a commitment from the lawyer to inform you if the costs are rising above this. Or you could agree a fixed price for the services. The Legal Ombudsman has a factsheet that spells out what a good service looks like when it comes to spelling out legal costs.
Q: Can I only pay for advice on specific aspects of a legal issue?
Answer: There are many different price options and approaches available, including unbundled services (where you only pay for certain legal work and do the rest yourself). See our legal costs section for more information.
Q: Do all lawyers charge by the hour?
Answer: No. Many lawyers offer fixed price or monthly retainer options. See our legal costs section for more information.
Q: Do I have the right to know how much my legal work will cost?
Answer: Yes. You’ve got the right to be told up-front about the cost of any legal service you use. Legal regulators require lawyers to be clear and open with their clients about cost information.
Q: Do lawyers with business expertise only work for large companies?
Answer: Many lawyers offer services for small businesses, designed with them in mind, rather than one size fits all advice to businesses of all sizes.
Q: What can I do if I’m not happy with the service I receive from a lawyer?
Answer: If you complain to a regulated lawyer and your problem is not resolved, you can complain to the Legal Ombudsman, providing your business has fewer than 10 employees, and your turnover and assets do not exceed £2,000,000.
Q: Do I need to have a good understanding of the law and legal terms to use a lawyer?
Answer: No. It is perfectly reasonable to ask a lawyer to explain things in a way that you understand. The majority of people do not understand legal jargon and lawyers have a responsibility to be clear about the work they are going to do, how much it will cost and how long it will take.
Q: How do I find a lawyer?
Answer: If you want a lawyer who is professionally regulated, visit the types of lawyer section which has guides on how to find one.
Q: How do I tell the difference between different legal services?
Answer: Our types of lawyer section gives an overview of different types of lawyer and the protections you get when you use them. For price comparison, lawyers should provide a quote for your work for you to compare. You can also check regulatory websites to see if a lawyer is regulated and if they have any sanctions against them.
Q: Do lawyers give the same advice to each client?
Answer: No. A lawyer can provide advice tailored to your business rather than generic advice.
Q: If I have a legal problem, do I have to either face it alone or employ a solicitor?
Answer: There are many options available if you have a legal problem. Online resources, alternative dispute resolution and direct access barristers are just some of these. See our pages on types of lawyer section for more information about different types of lawyer, and common business legal issues, read our factsheets.
Q: Once I have started using a lawyer, do I have to stay with them until the work is completed?
Answer: If you are not happy with a service, you have the right to change to different lawyer, or stop using one all together. However, they may hold onto your file until you pay them for any work carried out.
Q: Do I need separate advisers for banking, tax and legal issues?
Answer: That’s up to you. Some companies now offer advice on different types of services for business under the same roof. For example, your accountant may also employ lawyers or your lawyer may give tax advice.
Last reviewed: 24 August 2015