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Why Do Lawyers Charge Different Rates?

Why Do Lawyers Charge Different Rates?

Many lawyers charge different rates. Read this article to find out why lawyers charge different rates and what to look out for.

12th August 2019
Reading Time: 3 minutes

People are often apprehensive about legal fees. It can be one of the main deterrents from seeking legal help. There is no doubt that the legal profession is not without the type of reputation that can elicit feelings of deep dread come bill time. However, not all are as exorbitant as you might think. Lawyers charge different rates. These different rates can make some more affordable than others. Whilst there are some general industry standards for costs, no rate will be the identical. We have provided a few reasons for these different rates for you to read about below.

Specialisations and type of law

The type of law is a factor as to why lawyers charge different rates. For example, corporate and tax lawyers tend to charge more. This is because their clients are, in large part, companies and corporations needing the expertise to help mitigate their tax expenditure. Accordingly, their clients are willing to pay, and have the means to do so. Conversely, lawyers working in criminal law, despite what you might think, often charge less. Even though someone’s freedom or reputation hangs in the balance, many people facing criminal charges seldom have the requisite means to pay considerably for legal help. Whilst there are exceptions to these differences, it is nonetheless a factor.

Additionally, if your matter proceeds to court, and litigation is required, you may need the services of a barrister as well as a solicitor. This will increase your costs. Knowing the difference is important. Both barristers and solicitors have different pay structures depending on their area of law, their experience, their overheads, and the different types of insurance they require to practice. Whilst barristers work for themselves rather than a larger corporate firm, their fees can still be considerable. This is because they are not on salaries, and rely heavily on each case they are briefed to provide ends meet.

Business structures

It follows that as with distinctions between solicitors and barristers, there can be different business structures. Some lawyers work in partnerships, others have firms which are companies, and some work as sole trading practitioners. Solicitors always work for firms, albeit their own firm or in partnership, whilst barristers work for themselves and are generally sole traders. These variances in business structure will have an impact on the fees charged.

Experience & reputation

Experience and reputation is everything when it comes to what lawyers charge. Like with any business or commodity, fees are oftentimes charged as such simply because they can be and people are willing to pay. Remember, high fees do not always guarantee results. Many practitioners trade off their name and reputation, but it does not mean they are impervious to fault. It is very sensible to select your lawyer carefully. Their experience can be deceptive, especially with larger firms. For example, many of the larger corporate firms tend to charge out fees on the basis that the work is being conducted by lawyers of seniority. However, what is often the case is that the people actually discharging the work are junior solicitors with very minimal experience. It is integral to your selection process that they emphasise transparency about who is working on your matter.


The overheads of any business will often determine the charges outlaid. In a new technologically driven landscape, the legal profession is being disrupted by new innovative cloud software. This can allow lawyers to work with fewer overheads. It often means they do not require things like commercially leased office space, which is a massive drain on any business. As the old adage goes, the highest salary in any business goes to the landlord. These are known as virtual lawyers.

Seeking legal help can be daunting. Especially when thinking of the costs. This is why it is very important to do the appropriate research. Do not settle for the first lawyer that knocks on your door. Knowing why lawyers charge different rates can help you make an informed decision. It may be worth seeking quotes from the lawyer marketplace to guide you in this process.

Don’t know where to start? Contact us on 1800 529 728 to learn more about customising legal documents and obtaining a fixed-fee quote from Australia’s largest lawyer marketplace.

Paul Taylor

Paul is an intern at Lawpath, and is currently studying a combined Arts/Laws degree with a major in criminology at Macquarie University. Paul has an interest in legal tech, which complements his broader interest in cyber crime/security and the way in which it is changing the world.