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. 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.
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.
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.