Finding out how much it will cost to hire a lawyer or work with a law firm shouldn’t be a big secret. At Highlander Law Group we make a point of having a frank, upfront conversation about how much it might reasonably cost to do what you are looking to accomplish right in the initial consult. No surprises.
We offer a range of payment options for your convenience. We accept cash, debit, credit card, direct deposit and e-transfers.
Issue Review Consult
An Issue Review Consult (IRC) costs $100 + tax. You pay in full at the end of the meeting. At an IRC, you’ll have an opportunity to sit down with a lawyer, usually at our office in Tantallon (just outside of Halifax, Nova Scotia), and fully explain your situation. The lawyer will then give you their opinion on your options, including their best guess on possible outcomes and costs. You then decide how or even if you’d like to proceed. Schedule a Consult >
The majority of contested matters are billed based on how long it takes the lawyer to accomplish what you’ve hired them to do. Each lawyer has a set hourly rate. Time is recorded in 6 minute blocks (1/10 of an hour). When you get your bill, you will receive an itemized list of what the lawyer did and how long it took. The total will be ‘time spent’ x ‘the hourly rate’ (plus tax). Typically, you will pay an amount of money (the retainer) upfront. The lawyer will hold it in trust and when you are billed, the balance will be deducted from the amount held in trust.
Several areas of law are more transactional in nature – that is, there are a standard set of steps to complete the task. The time and cost to complete the steps is fairly consistent. For these areas of law, we are able to set a fixed price to accomplish the transaction. In the odd case, a situation may fall outside of the norm and as a result may cost more or less. If this is the case, we would discuss this with you in advance of starting work on your file. We would come to an agreement on the cost before you commit to hiring us.
Contingency billing is when you don’t pay unless the lawyer recovers money for you. Usually you agree to pay the lawyer a percentage of what you get. The typical amount is 25%. The lawyer will meet with you to determine whether or not they feel you have a case. If the lawyer feels confident that you will be successful, they may take the file on contingency. You will sign a contract outlining the specific payment details. Whether you are responsible to pay the necessary disbursements as you go along will be something decided on between you and your lawyer at the outset.
The cost for an individual to have a Will prepared is $450 + tax in 99 out of 100 cases. If you and a spouse come in together and want your Wills to essentially mirror each other then it costs $750 + tax. This amount is payable in full on the day you meet with your lawyer to execute the final documents. In rare cases, a Codicil may be appropriate. The cost for a Codicil will depend on the extent of the changes.
The total cost to incorporate provincially is $1600 including tax. You pay in advance. The funds are held in trust and spent as needed on disbursements, like buying a minute book, seal and the Registry of Joint Stock fees. The lawyer will pay themselves only after the company is incorporated and the minute book assembled. The legal fee works out to approximately $750 + tax (included in the $1600). If you are shopping around, be sure to clarify if the quote is ‘all in’ or is just the legal fees.
To have a lawyer or commissioner of oaths notarize a document costs $35 + tax. Each additional document requiring notarization costs $5 + tax. You pay at the office after the documents are notarized. If you are a past client of the firm, the notary public service is complementary. If your documents require notarization, you must wait to sign the document in front of the notary public. The person signing the documents must also bring a valid original (not a photocopoy) government issued photo ID.
Residential Real Estate
There are several costs associated with transferring ownership of residential property. There are the legal fees, which are explained below. There is also a list of items that flow from the requirements in your purchase and sale agreement and from your bank. The prices listed below are the fees for the lawyer’s time and are not inclusive of the other costs required to complete the transaction. As part of the process, after we’ve reviewed your purchase and sale agreement and heard from your bank, we’ll provide you with a detailed list of the other required items and their cost. This amount will typically be identical from law firm to law firm since the items are all things external to the firm. Check out our blog on 'closing costs' to get more details on the breakdown.
The cost for the legal fee portion of a typical residential real estate purchase is $750 + tax if your mortgage is with one of the 5 national banks. This amount will be deducted from the closing funds provided by you, by way of money order, for closing day.
The cost for the legal fee portion of a typical residential real estate sale is $650 + tax. This amount will be deducted from the sale proceeds on closing day. The balance of the funds will be paid out to you after we pay out any mortgages on the property.
Purchase & Sale
If you are selling your home and purchasing a new one and using our firm for both transactions, then you get a discount and the total amount of legal fees for both is $1250 + tax in a typical transaction if you are using one of the 5 national banks for your financing.
Disbursements & Admin. Fees
Disbursements are the fees incurred by the firm for purchasing things necessary for your file. Common examples are court filing fees and fees charged by the Registry of Deeds or Joint Stocks. You will be billed exactly what we paid. We do not profit from your disbursements.
Admin fees are the miscellaneous costs, above and beyond the legal fees charged for your lawyer’s time, incurred by the firm to service your file. These typically include things like postage, photocopying and long distance phone calls. We typically charge a flat fee of $15 + tax on every file ($25 + tax for real estate files) to cover these expenses rather than nickle and dime you for every phone call or piece of paper. If we foresee that your file is going to use substantially more of these services than average, the admin fee with be a different amount, however that would specifically be discussed with you in advance. If we have to use a subscription service like Property Online (the service we use to access the Registry of Deeds) or a courier an admin fee for those will also be added.
Disbursements and admin fees will be included on your bill along with the fees for legal services and are due in the same manner you arranged to pay your legal fees.
The information on this page is to help you understand how a bill from our law firm is typically put together. Please understand that every case is unique and from time to time the billing process will be different than what is outlined on this page. However, please know that before we begin work on your matter we will make sure to have an honest, upfront discussion about the fees particular to your case and we will not begin work until you have consented to the anticipated costs.