Have you used a solicitor in the last 12 months?

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Just gathering a bit of anecdotal data at the moment so a quick couple of questions:
1) Have you used a solicitor in the last 12 months (for your business, not personal matters)?
2) If not, is that because you didn't have any legal need or went elsewhere for legal advice?
3) If yes, roughly how much did you pay per hour for your solicitor?

No need to go into any detail about why you needed a solicitor (unless you want to share) but answers to these 3 questions will be really useful. Thanks in advance.
 
I've not been to a solicitor for a while now. Normally I research any legal issues as best I can for myself. From there I balance out the need for a solicitor based on the situation. Most issues I have had that might have required a solicitor have been fairly minor so was very comfortable going with my own research.
 
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KAC

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In a spirit of openness, Jason, should you disclose that you are marketing director for a large law firm ?
 
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In a spirit of openness, Jason, should you disclose that you are marketing director for a large law firm ?
Yes, but I'm not touting for business I'm genuinely trying to gather some info. Research suggests that businesses have, on average, 8 legal needs per year but only 1 in 10 use a lawyer to resolve them. Cost is bound to be a factor (hence the hourly rate question)
 
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The Byre

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It is not just price that is putting people off - but competence. I told you in that other thread about the self-styled IP lawyer who told a singer-songwriter that she could mail a CD to herself as proof of authorship. Anyone hearing that, would come to the obvious conclusion that all low-rent IP lawyers are idiots who don't even understand the basics of the technology.

If we are (as I did shortly in that other thread) to talk about film, these are financed through a so-called 'sale-and-lease-back' deal and very often with someone like Barkley's Bank Film Division, who in turn expect to see the names of a short list of trusted lawyers who specialise in that kind of deal. Joe-Blow LLB on the High Street would be about as useful as a dead fish.

I do however realise that many businesses screw up big time, when a competent lawyer could prevent them from making a stick for their own backs. I am seeing many companies, including multi-billion turnover concerns, getting unstuck over the Consumer Rights Act of 2015 - in particular, when they stick to old practices and contracts that fall foul of the need for clarity and fair dealing.

The funny part is, they KNOW that they are falling foul - they often have plenty of resident lawyers who point out the need to redraft every contract and order-form and retrain staff. Managers resist these moves out of stubbornness and need to please shareholders - i.e. short-term gain over long-term common sense. That is a specifically British disease!

Unfortunately, lawyers in the UK struggle with that myopic short-term-ism, both in their clients and in themselves. Go to any High Street solicitor and tell him or her that you have a complex issue of probate, including rapid succession, multiple heirs, a contested will, outstanding obligations and unregistered properties. Will you be turned away and sent to a proper probate specialist in a large practice with contract and property lawyers on-hand to advise? The hell you will!

"We can sort all that out for you!" is what you will hear!

At the same time, given the poor experience that many business people have when dealing with low-rent lawyers, combined with the need to keep costs down to a minimum, they attempt to solve their own legal problems.

And I for one, cannot blame them!

Like @Clinton, I have to deal with lawyers all the time and not just in the UK and if their is one set features that UK lawyers have in common, it is a complete lack or urgency and aggression. If I ask for a letter to be written, today would be a good day to write that letter. Tomorrow is another day and another letter.

And if I initiate litigation, I expect to win. I would not have gone down that path, if I was not expecting to win and win outright. I do not trust lawyers who are friends with all the other officers of the court that he or she is dealing with. For far too many provincial lawyers, the court is a cosy club where they all know each other.

The average business person will have experienced a court at some time. They will have tried to get their day in court, in an attempt to get money out of some delinquent client or supplier. What they witness is all-too-often, a strange medieval dance for middle-aged men, some obscure gavotte, whose moves seem to have been decided in advance, in chambers and behind closed doors.

UK lawyers seem to enjoy playing some obscure game of 'footsie' with one another and the average client is left somewhat bewildered. Unless you get a barrister from out of town, who doesn't care if he costs some junior his or her career, there doesn't seem to be a real need to win by fair means or foul.
 
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The Byre has pretty much summed it up, for me.

I do use solicitors, for property transactions, contractual issues and if necessary, staff disputes - the later has not been necessary.

I have a medium sized local company that I use whenever the need arises. I have known the senior person there for 10 years, and although I am not a big client, some trust has emerged.

I have never, recently, used a solicitor for debt recovery. I very much doubt if they would be successful in that arena.

For most of us, the language and machinations of the law are so removed from the world in which we operate, any use of solicitors is a last resort.
 
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It is not just price that is putting people off - but competence. I told you in that other thread about the self-styled IP lawyer who told a singer-songwriter that she could mail a CD to herself as proof of authorship. Anyone hearing that, would come to the obvious conclusion that all low-rent IP lawyers are idiots who don't even understand the basics of the technology.

If we are (as I did shortly in that other thread) to talk about film, these are financed through a so-called 'sale-and-lease-back' deal and very often with someone like Barkley's Bank Film Division, who in turn expect to see the names of a short list of trusted lawyers who specialise in that kind of deal. Joe-Blow LLB on the High Street would be about as useful as a dead fish.

I do however realise that many businesses screw up big time, when a competent lawyer could prevent them from making a stick for their own backs. I am seeing many companies, including multi-billion turnover concerns, getting unstuck over the Consumer Rights Act of 2015 - in particular, when they stick to old practices and contracts that fall foul of the need for clarity and fair dealing.

The funny part is, they KNOW that they are falling foul - they often have plenty of resident lawyers who point out the need to redraft every contract and order-form and retrain staff. Managers resist these moves out of stubbornness and need to please shareholders - i.e. short-term gain over long-term common sense. That is a specifically British disease!

Unfortunately, lawyers in the UK struggle with that myopic short-term-ism, both in their clients and in themselves. Go to any High Street solicitor and tell him or her that you have a complex issue of probate, including rapid succession, multiple heirs, a contested will, outstanding obligations and unregistered properties. Will you be turned away and sent to a proper probate specialist in a large practice with contract and property lawyers on-hand to advise? The hell you will!

"We can sort all that out for you!" is what you will hear!

At the same time, given the poor experience that many business people have when dealing with low-rent lawyers, combined with the need to keep costs down to a minimum, they attempt to solve their own legal problems.

And I for one, cannot blame them!

Like @Clinton, I have to deal with lawyers all the time and not just in the UK and if their is one set features that UK lawyers have in common, it is a complete lack or urgency and aggression. If I ask for a letter to be written, today would be a good day to write that letter. Tomorrow is another day and another letter.

And if I initiate litigation, I expect to win. I would not have gone down that path, if I was not expecting to win and win outright. I do not trust lawyers who are friends with all the other officers of the court that he or she is dealing with. For far too many provincial lawyers, the court is a cosy club where they all know each other.

The average business person will have experienced a court at some time. They will have tried to get their day in court, in an attempt to get money out of some delinquent client or supplier. What they witness is all-too-often, a strange medieval dance for middle-aged men, some obscure gavotte, whose moves seem to have been decided in advance, in chambers and behind closed doors.

UK lawyers seem to enjoy playing some obscure game of 'footsie' with one another and the average client is left somewhat bewildered. Unless you get a barrister from out of town, who doesn't care if he costs some junior his or her career, there doesn't seem to be a real need to win by fair means or foul.
As a regular user of solicitors would you mind sharing what hourly rate (a rough average would suffice) you pay?
 
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atmosbob

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The average business person will have experienced a court at some time. They will have tried to get their day in court, in an attempt to get money out of some delinquent client or supplier. What they witness is all-too-often, a strange medieval dance for middle-aged men, some obscure gavotte, whose moves seem to have been decided in advance, in chambers and behind closed doors.
The secret is to avoid court as much as possible.

Using lawyers is like casting a film or a play. You try and use the most suitable people for the role. Probably the best lawyers to use are those whose skill at negotiation keeps you out of court but gets a good result.
 
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The Byre

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Aug 13, 2013
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As a regular user of solicitors would you mind sharing what hourly rate (a rough average would suffice) you pay?
That is completely the wrong question as it is a leading question that presupposes that we pay by the hour.

It is like saying "What is the hourly rate for a movie score composer?" or "What is the hourly rate for a paediatrician?"

As I pointed out earlier, the difference between a competent paediatrician and the local GP can be the life of your child. The difference between Hans Zimmer and Joe Blow can be the success or failure of a $100m movie.

This forum has countless examples of businesses that are crying for help, after they went to a self-styled accountant with no proper training, only to discover that as a result, they now owe HMRC tens of thousands and are facing bankruptcy.

One poorly drafted extended warranty contract can make the difference between profit and loss for a car dealership. One bumbling solicitor can cost someone their inheritance. I have seen both of these things happen!

And talking of car dealerships, supposing a car dealer came to you for an employment contract and you asked him what the hourly rate for his junior mechanics was and he told you that they pay shop-time (pay by the job) and not standard time by the hour. What then?
 
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That is completely the wrong question as it is a leading question that presupposes that we pay by the hour.

It is like saying "What is the hourly rate for a movie score composer?" or "What is the hourly rate for a paediatrician?"

As I pointed out earlier, the difference between a competent paediatrician and the local GP can be the life of your child. The difference between Hans Zimmer and Joe Blow can be the success or failure of a $100m movie.

This forum has countless examples of businesses that are crying for help, after they went to a self-styled accountant with no proper training, only to discover that as a result, they now owe HMRC tens of thousands and are facing bankruptcy.

One poorly drafted extended warranty contract can make the difference between profit and loss for a car dealership. One bumbling solicitor can cost someone their inheritance. I have seen both of these things happen!

And talking of car dealerships, supposing a car dealer came to you for an employment contract and you asked him what the hourly rate for his junior mechanics was and he told you that they pay shop-time (pay by the job) and not standard time by the hour. What then?

I'm afraid you are off the mark here. Nearly all solicitors have an hourly charge out rate (whether or not they charge it or not is irrelevant), even if some charge a fixed fee they will still have an hourly rate scale (see the answer from White Collar Legal above). Not all industries do (I have no experience of movie score producers but I know that my plumber, car mechanic and electrician all do.
My question is about whether or not people have used a solicitor in the last 12 months and trying to get an indication of rates so your examples of multi-million dollar movies and failing car dealerships are interesting but not helpful I'm afraid. Obviously something done badly (not just in a legal sense) is likely to have a negative outcome.
I'm not sure I understand the relevance of your point about junior car mechanics either as that doesn't help answer any part of my initial question. If you have never been charged by the hour by solicitor then that's fair enough but I can tell you that nearly all of them work (and bill) based on time - often in 4 minute segments.
 
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The Byre

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Aug 13, 2013
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I'm afraid you are off the mark here. Nearly all solicitors have an hourly charge out rate (whether or not they charge it or not is irrelevant), even if some charge a fixed fee they will still have an hourly rate scale (see the answer from White Collar Legal above). Not all industries do (I have no experience of movie score producers but I know that my plumber, car mechanic and electrician all do.
1. Now you know why nine-tenths of businesses avoid using lawyers. They charge by the hour!

If I buy 100 widgets from China, the supplier will give me a fixed price FOB or whatever. Every business needs to know what something will cost, BEFORE they commit to buying it.

2. I do not know your plumber, electrician or car mechanic, but I can assure you that when it comes to any large commission, they all charge a fixed fee. Small jobs may run by the hour - £47 for a call out and same again per hour, plus parts at retail, is what our plumber charges. But when I asked him what a shower, or underfloor heating would cost, he gave me and charged a fixed fee. The same applies to electricians.

As for auto-mechanics - dealerships nearly all charge so-called shop-hours and not by the clock. Changing a universal has about one 'shop hour' on a small car. It takes a good mechanic 10-to-20 minutes to do the job, but you get to see £120 parts and one hour labour. The more profit there is on a part, the more 'shop hours' the dealer will list against that part. Nowhere on your invoice will you get to see the time taken to find the car on the lot, drive it to the bay, put it up on the lift, get the parts out of the store, write the report, get the report OK'ed by the service manager, drive the car back to the lot and go find the next car. If the mechanic take two hours to do all that, he still gets one hour paid. If he cracks the job in ten minutes, with five minutes to clear the job, he still gets one hour paid and you get one hour billed.

3. Movies are like every other business (except some lawyers it seems). Hans Zimmer has an agency (which he owns BTW!) and that agency will give you a fixed fee for all the music, incidental, as well as major themes, including all the arrangements, musicians, studio times, editing, mixing, etc., etc., etc. The same applies to all the other aspects of a huge project like a movie. CGI - fixed fee. Sound design - fixed fee. Colouring and post-production - fixed fee.

So, in conclusion, you are telling me that the production team for a giant project like 'War for the Planet of the Apes' that took over a year and 1,000 people to make, could set a precise budget of $150m and were able to stick to that budget, but a lawyer can't price-up a simple contract and has to say 'we charge by the hour' - and you still can't work out why nearly all businesses try to solve their own legal problems?????

Movie lawyers have to draft all the NDAs, release forms, payment and commissioning contracts, company formation and share-ownership contracts, negotiate with the unions and do about one thousand other things for a fixed fee. Funny, that!
 
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Clinton

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Movie lawyers have to draft all the NDAs, release forms, payment and commissioning contracts, company formation and share-ownership contracts, negotiate with the unions and do about one thousand other things for a fixed fee. Funny, that!
Most lawyers in my industry offer a fixed fee option. Many even offer contingency (ie. you pay only if the M&A / business acquisition deal goes through, but not if it collapses somewhere along the line).
 
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1. Now you know why nine-tenths of businesses avoid using lawyers. They charge by the hour!

If I buy 100 widgets from China, the supplier will give me a fixed price FOB or whatever. Every business needs to know what something will cost, BEFORE they commit to buying it.

2. I do not know your plumber, electrician or car mechanic, but I can assure you that when it comes to any large commission, they all charge a fixed fee. Small jobs may run by the hour - £47 for a call out and same again per hour, plus parts at retail, is what our plumber charges. But when I asked him what a shower, or underfloor heating would cost, he gave me and charged a fixed fee. The same applies to electricians.

As for auto-mechanics - dealerships nearly all charge so-called shop-hours and not by the clock. Changing a universal has about one 'shop hour' on a small car. It takes a good mechanic 10-to-20 minutes to do the job, but you get to see £120 parts and one hour labour. The more profit there is on a part, the more 'shop hours' the dealer will list against that part. Nowhere on your invoice will you get to see the time taken to find the car on the lot, drive it to the bay, put it up on the lift, get the parts out of the store, write the report, get the report OK'ed by the service manager, drive the car back to the lot and go find the next car. If the mechanic take two hours to do all that, he still gets one hour paid. If he cracks the job in ten minutes, with five minutes to clear the job, he still gets one hour paid and you get one hour billed.

3. Movies are like every other business (except some lawyers it seems). Hans Zimmer has an agency (which he owns BTW!) and that agency will give you a fixed fee for all the music, incidental, as well as major themes, including all the arrangements, musicians, studio times, editing, mixing, etc., etc., etc. The same applies to all the other aspects of a huge project like a movie. CGI - fixed fee. Sound design - fixed fee. Colouring and post-production - fixed fee.

So, in conclusion, you are telling me that the production team for a giant project like 'War for the Planet of the Apes' that took over a year and 1,000 people to make, could set a precise budget of $150m and were able to stick to that budget, but a lawyer can't price-up a simple contract and has to say 'we charge by the hour' - and you still can't work out why nearly all businesses try to solve their own legal problems?????

Movie lawyers have to draft all the NDAs, release forms, payment and commissioning contracts, company formation and share-ownership contracts, negotiate with the unions and do about one thousand other things for a fixed fee. Funny, that!
Thanks for your continuing responses which, although interesting, remain completely irrelevant to my question.
Of course solicitors can work to a fixed fee (anybody can) and they price this by calculating the anticipated number of hours it will take plus a contingency and times that by their hourly rate so the pricing risk lays with them to get it done under the time allowed. This is often more expensive than paying by the hour as you pay for the contingency element with fixed fees and you don't get the benefit of the solicitor completing the work quicker than anticipated but you are safeguarded against it taking longer.
If the work is litigious then it is almost impossible to have a fixed fee as solicitors need to respond to the actions of the other side and some cases can take years to complete hence solicitors use a 'by the hour' billing method.
$150m movies are not what most of on us on this forum deal with so is a pretty extreme example to make your point but setting a budget of that magnitude and coming in on budget is irrelevant.
I love a debate but you are so far off course from my original question that we should leave it there. Although it might be worth remembering that for us mere mortals (that are not dealing with multi-million dollar movie deals) regular UK business solicitors have an hourly rate system which may or may not be billed that way (could be fixed fee, conditional fee arrangements, capped, success/abort etc) but they are selling you their time.
 
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