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Is this jump in solicitor fees normal?

(15 Posts)
thinkiamgoingcrazy Tue 30-May-17 13:12:14

Have seen the same solicitor twice in about 3 years. The first time she charged me 100 plus vat saying that 150 was the normal rate. She also gave me a really long appointment.

The second time she just took 100 off me all inclusive.

It now looks as if I am going to have to go ahead with this god awful divorce as H and I don't get on at all and I cannot spend the rest of my life being ignored / disliked / shouted at.

So I contacted the solicitor to make an appointment to discuss how to word the unreasonable behaviour section of the petition that I am filling in now as a precaution (though I would rather H and I could resolve things by ourselves - and pigs might fly - have so far been too scared to say anything to him).

She emailed me to say that those were fixed fee meetings and that her charge out fee is £270 plus VAT per hour.

Feel somewhat duped as I was lead to believe that she normally charges £150 per hour plus VAT.

Also feel like crying. I earn £216 a week.

It all feels hopeless and as if I my life is falling apart. On top of that my knee and hip are really hurting and I can't walk properly today. I will go to the GP and hopefully it is not serious, but I feel rubbish sad.

sammidanis Tue 30-May-17 16:09:51

270 per hour seems high,
Is there anyone in her office with lower rates? I'd say 160 per hour is about the norm but I've only had dealings with commercial matters. Cab is more than likely your best bet for advice... hope you feel better soon flowers

KatyBerry Tue 30-May-17 16:21:22

What the "norm" is depends on her level / experience and where the firm is etc. She's done you a couple of favours in the past in the hope of bringing in your business which has to be done on commercial rates, not as a favour throughout. She may have been promoted to partner in that time, which would account for the sharp rise. She will not be offended if you ask whether there is someone more junior who can act under her supervision at a lower rate but you need to bear in mind that may lead to more time at a lower cost plus supervision charges and may be only marginally (if at all) more cost effective than using her. It's not an unusually high charge out rate for what it's worth; I have both charged and paid substantially more.

WeeMcBeastie Tue 30-May-17 21:47:53

I used Quickie Divorce and had no problems at all. I went for a package that included support with filling in forms but I didn't use it. I googled wording and examples to use for unreasonable behaviour and it was all done within 20 weeks. I paid something like £200 to Quickie Divorce and £450 ish to the court. I would recommend QD as I can't believe how much some people pay to get divorced.

Tanfastic Tue 30-May-17 21:55:47

I'm a practice manager for a firm of solicitors.

Not sure what part of the country you are in but her initial fees sound quite low. Our divorce specialist charges £180 plus vat per hour but we are north England so that is quite cheap.

We also do fixed fee deals which can come in cheaper than the hourly rate.

Are you sure her second quote wasn't some kind of fixed fee excluding disbursements?

If you have a straightforward divorce then it's very easy to deal with yourself to be honest. I'd only be employing a solicitor if I had a difficult husband or there were a lot of finances to carve up that we weren't able to reach agreement on,

thinkiamgoingcrazy Wed 31-May-17 09:25:20

Thanks for your answers.

I have booked an appointment with her for tomorrow but am now having second thoughts.

My H is difficult and he will absolutely dig his heels in about the financial stuff be furious that I am daring to claim what he thinks is only his. He has hidden property in the past so I don't trust him.

This appointment however was mainly so that she could help me with the unreasonable behaviour wording. I haven't broached divorced with H yet as a. I am too scared and b. I feel emotionally devastated and would rather this wasn't happening.

My first port of call was going to be to tell him that I think our problems his behaviour are irresolvable and that I think we should go to mediation. However I was going to have the petition ready so that I could send it off if H ignores me and uses that time to hide things left right and centre. On the premise that it is easier for me to do it now when I am half devastated. God knows if I will be able to cope with anything once the shit hits the fan. It's all a mess.

Do you think I should cancel the appointment with the solicitor and work out the unreasonable behaviour wording myself?

thinkiamgoingcrazy Wed 31-May-17 09:26:16


greenberet Wed 31-May-17 09:54:00

Hi Op was this solicitor a recommendation? if not see if you can get one - or at the very least check them out on here

I have a very poor view of legal profession after getting emotionally & financially abused by the people that were supposed to help me deal with an emotionally & financially abusive X. The higher fee does not necessarily equate to the right experience - my solicitor told me over & over again that she had the right experience and is a MD of a fairly reputable firm.

I was vulnerable and had had an insurance payout for cancer - totally led down the garden path and ditched as I became emotionally stronger and started asking too many questions. end result though disaster for me and i am now trying to compensate.

I also found on the review site afterwards that i was not the only one.

what is your gut feeling? - is she to the point & authorative or is she a bit waffly and understanding?

if he is "difficult" mediation is unlikely to work and if she is experienced she should know this and may not even be worth attempting. also you may want to try and do this yourself at this stage and use the solicitor further down the line

It all seems very daunting when it is new - but i have heard so much bullshit from lawyers and judges that i have realised they are not to be feared - some are not acting in clients interests but their own - financially - and that they really couldn't give a shit on the outcome despite what they say - you are just one of many -

sorry maybe not what you want to hear right now but i do not want anyone to have to experience what i did .

have you looked up wikivorce and try legal section on here.

WeeMcBeastie Wed 31-May-17 10:23:26

I would definitely do it yourself OP. It's time consuming but not difficult and there are plenty of examples online. Good luck smile

thinkiamgoingcrazy Wed 31-May-17 10:25:34

She was recommended by a friend who used to work with her.

Will she charge me any money if I cancel at this point (the appointment is tomorrow)?

She is recommending mediation because if it has to go to court (perish the thought), you have to prove that mediation didn't work. Also because she thinks it might be the easiest way to do things.

She is a bit waffly yes. But she is experienced and her energy is very positive.

I totally take your point about it being about her fee though. She could have said that she could have given me advice about the unreasonable behaviour section by email.

I am sorry you had such a hard time greenberet.

greenberet Wed 31-May-17 10:44:43

think I'm sorry too but we go through this for some good reason right? I'm just waiting to find out what it is!

Working with someone is not the same as another client recommending

Postpone the meeting - give yourself some time to think about whether you can do this on your own with help off here.

They say this about mediation - but if you know your Dh to be difficult and already has hidden things do you think it will work. If you are scared of his reaction is he controlling?

I did mediation -very emotional and waste of time and money -X played the game.

In my experience they like to get you face to face or on the phone - that way they can rack up a full hour - especially if a bit waffly!!

I did a lot by email mainly because in the early days I was a wreck and it was at all sorts of times - but you know what it documents everything- and I have emails completely contradicting each other Which had it all taken place face to face or on the phone I would not be able to support my claim for unprofessionalism.

I once heard someone say experience can be "1 year repeated x number of times" !

thinkiamgoingcrazy Wed 31-May-17 11:03:09

Yes he can be controlling.

Asking him to go to mediation is a way for me to broach the subject. I think he will either say no or just ignore my request.

Who knew that it would be this difficult (emotionally) to try to end something that obviously isn't working.

mickyblueyes Wed 31-May-17 11:20:50

Solicitors are expensive, I know and fully empathise with your situation. I'm going through something similar, I am having to borrow to be able to afford the cost, but not having to deal with the stress and EA from my (hopefully) STBXW is worth it.

I have a very good friend who has been through this too, and he said although its a ridiculous cost the end goal is worth it...he worded it something like spending 10K+ on solicitors fees has saved him his sanity, and recouped the cost in a fair settlement.

It's hard, REALLY hard, but you need to play the long game.

thinkiamgoingcrazy Wed 31-May-17 12:22:18

Have sent the solicitor an email postponing our appointment. She hasn't responded so I am panicking a bit, but it has only been an hour since I sent the email.

It is very hard micky. My ideal scenario would be one where H either really takes on board the changes I need him to make (but I don't think he is capable of doing that, nor do I think he loves me), or we manage to agree a fair divorce without recourse to any court and without a massive argument (unlikely given his personality and his history).

Am giving myself a day off from the angst as yesterday was a really hard day.

I hope it works out well for you micky. I am just terrified that H is going to intimidate me into accepting nothing, or put everything in his friend's or a family member's name. It has become an obsession for me (due to his past hidden property).

thinkiamgoingcrazy Wed 31-May-17 12:23:38

At the same time I don't want a divisive / family busting divorce at all sad.

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