Train to be a Costs Lawyer

What is a Costs Lawyer and why train to become one? 

A Costs Lawyer is a qualified and regulated legal professional who specialises in the law and practice of legal costs. 

As a Costs Lawyer, you would be part of the only branch of the regulated legal profession that has a detailed knowledge of and expertise in the field of legal costs.  Your services would be predominantly sought by firms of solicitors, but instructions may also be obtained from members of the public including businesses. 

By becoming a Costs Lawyer, you would be involved in a highly specialised niche area of the law. Costs law has become even more specialised in recent years following significant reforms in April 2013. 

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What do Costs Lawyers do?

The work historically derives from the following three key areas: 

  • Costs between the parties;
  • Solicitor and client costs;
  • Legal aid/public funding. 

Until recently, most of the work you would undertake as a Costs Lawyer would be carried out after the settlement of a matter.  However, in very recent years, with the introduction of costs budgeting, Costs Lawyers are an integral part of the case (whichever party is giving the instructions) and, as a Costs Lawyer, you may be heavily involved in the management of the claim from a very early stage right through settlement of the claim and to the conclusion of matters relating to costs. 

As a Costs Lawyer, your work is likely to be considerably varied and what work you would undertake would depend upon where you work – this may be in-house in a solicitor’s firm, within a firm dealing solely with legal costs or you could work independently.  Some Costs Lawyers deal with a particular specialism (i.e. work solely on behalf of claimants or defendants or only take on legal aid work) whilst others may deal with a broad spectrum of work. 

The following details some of the work you could undertake as a Costs Lawyer although this is by no means exhaustive: 

  • Advise on retainers and fee arrangements between clients and their legal advisors;
  • Assist in the preparation of costs budgets and advise on costs budgets presented by an opposing party
  • Attend Costs Case Management Conferences (CCMC)
  • Advise on costs orders
  • Draft bills of costs and schedules;
  • Draft points of dispute and replies to points of dispute;
  • Advise on costs offers and negotiate
  • Attend detailed assessment hearings (advocacy)
  • Instruct costs counsel to attend detailed assessment hearings
  • Attend mediation (alternative dispute resolution (ADR))
  • Deal with the outcome of provisional assessment
  • Prepare applications relevant to costs including appeals.
  • Advise on and prepare claims for costs from public funds (legal aid)
  • Advise on disputes between solicitors and their clients
  • Act as costs mediators or arbitrators in costs disputes 

As the work is varied and each legal case is very different, no two days are likely to be the same in the life of a Costs Lawyer!

What is the difference between a Costs Lawyer and a costs draftsman?

Upon qualification and upon meeting certain requirements, you would be able to apply to the Costs Lawyer Standards Board (CLSB) for a practising certificate which would afford you the rights to conduct the following reserved legal activities under the Legal Services Act 2007: 

  • The exercise of a right of audience
  • The conduct of litigation
  • The administration of oaths.

A non-qualified costs draftsman is not afforded the same rights, although, in certain circumstances, a non-qualified draftsman may be regulated by the Solicitors’ Regulation Authority (SRA) (e.g. where he or she is an employee of a solicitor’s firm).  However, that individual will not hold a practising certificate.

There will not be an intake for the academic year 2018/19 due to the Costs Lawyer training course being under review. If you are interested in training to qualify as a Costs Lawyer please register your interest by emailing training@costslawyer.co.uk