What to do about excessive lawyers bill & "managing" lawyer for the future

(4 Posts)
hanniballecter Sat 08-Mar-14 21:27:17

My divorce lawyers first bill is massive. Items charged for that should not have been charged for, work duplicated etc. People I have told in RL have been shocked by the size of the bill. Some of the people I have spoken to have said that their entire divorce (conducted via lawyers, not DIY) was less than my first bill. (And btw, before anyone asks, I did not plague my lawyer with excessive calls, emails etc).

I believe that I can ultimately go to the law society (and I may well do this) and that the firm will probably have a formal complaints procedure. Initially, however, I was going to complain to the lawyer in charge of my case (I do not have an issue with his charges it is the charges of the junior lawyer assisting him).

Does anyone have any tips on how best to make my complaint? I assume I should tackle each charge individually, rather than make generic comments? Some of the charges are very easy to attack (e.g. duplicated work) but others are more subjective (e.g. was the work really necessary, how long should the work have taken).

And how best to manage my lawyer to avoid a recurrence? I may well move lawyer but I just don't want a recurrence of this as its been incredibly upsetting in an already difficult situation.

JeanSeberg Sat 08-Mar-14 22:01:04

You're right that you have to complain to the solicitor in the first instance:

www.lawsociety.org.uk/for-the-public/faqs/complaining-about-a-solicitor/

For future work, get details of costs in advance.

IUsedToUseMyHands Thu 20-Mar-14 10:38:31

I would write back and say that I was very unhappy with the bill and that he had gone beyond my instructions and/or the fees do not reflect what has actually been done. I'd then state what I was prepared to pay (a reasonable amount) and state that if that was not acceptable, I would like a copy of the WIP report (WIP=work in progress) and a full breakdown of what items have been charged and why and exactly what those consist of; as well as details of what has not been charged and why. He might take the view that by the time he's spent several hours doing all that, he may as well just have accepted your offer, written some of the bill off and got on with the next job.

I'd think about changing your solicitor. If you are getting divorced, you can do without this.

JaneinReading Thu 20-Mar-14 15:42:03

1. Were you given a fixed quote?
2. Were you given an approximate estimate and how much?
3. Did their terms of engagement say anything about fees and estimates?
4. Could you roughly tell us here what they did and how many hours at what hourly rate they put down for it?

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