It's funny you know, but I have never heard employees of a Lawyer comment adversely about the expense of legal services. And I believe I know why - they have special knowledge: of what income their boss really has, that fine margin between succeeding and failing; they know the financial obligation he has to them exceeds the entire balance of all other expenses of his being in business; they know each account contributes towards the expense of running a modern and effective legal practice, one that can deliver the range of services you need.
Not too many years ago the University of New England reported that about 75% of fees charged by Brisbane suburban Solicitors were consumed in office overhead costs. It also reported that they worked 51 hours per week for 49 weeks of the year and that over the 10 years prior to the report -
- Average earnings in Australia increased by 76%.
- But legal fees increased by 65%.
- And the Solicitors take home pay (his real earnings) increased by only 48.8%.
In reality a legal practice is just the same as any other business - offering a service, observing the applicable laws and trying to make a dollar. However there is a not so subtle difference in the fees chargeable by Lawyers.....
Consumer protection is a relatively topical thing these days. Lawyers however have provided a protection for their clients for over a century. The Costs Act of 1867, the Solicitors Act 1891, Legal Practitioners Act 1995 and the Legal Profession act 2007 all regulated what and how Solicitors could charge for their services, the time for a client to challenge an account and the right to have the same scrutinised and certified (taxed) previously by an Officer of the Court but currently as determined by an independent Cost Assessor appointed by the Court. In civil matters, the Rules of Court also provided for the amount applicable in the absence of agreement, to be chargeable by Lawyers.
The Queensland Law Society Act 1952, then the Civil Justice Reform Act 1998 and now the Legal Profession Act 2007 replace those previous laws governing legal fees and costs. Solicitors are required to become "commercial" by entering written contracts with clients when fees will exceed $750.00. Procedures are provided for disputes.
So, in relation to fees, Solicitors still provide up-front information and consumer protection second to none. Unfortunately there are no specifications applicable to a legal problem. It is not like building a house where the costs can be accurately calculated in advance from plans and specifications. The matter may be complex necessitating lengthy preparation and intense research; the matter may be urgent and demanding devotion to you in preference to other clients; it may result in absence from the office causing a loss of opportunity to win other work; or your opponent may be more obstinate than you anticipated resulting in the trial being lengthier than expected. These are some of the reasons why a fixed fee quotation for legal work may not be appropriate.
Legal fees and costs are so relevant that sometimes they will influence the direction of a case.
So don’t engage your Solicitor blindly, discuss what fees are chargeable and how they are payable. Be informed at the outset, not shocked upon completion.
Consult this legal firm with nearly half a century of knowledge and experience first and get it right!
Need help with the law?
If you need advice in relation to legal costs or have an enquiry about any other legal matter, contact G. R. Brown Solicitor and Notary Public between 8.30am and 5.00pm Monday to Friday by visiting the office at Suite 5, Sandgate Arcade, cnr Brighton Road and Second Avenue, Sandgate, Qld 4017 or by telephoning on 07 3269 8511 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org .