Careers in costs law
Find out about the range of opportunities for people qualified in costs law in England and Wales
Costs Lawyers are highly specialist lawyers. They are experts in legal costs law and practice and often work with other regulated legal professionals, such as solicitors and barristers. They can be instructed directly by courts, solicitors, members of the public and businesses to undertake specific work.
An introduction to the profession
A Costs Lawyer's work can be considerably varied and will depend upon where they work – this may be in-house in a firm dealing solely with legal costs, in a solicitor’s firm, working independently and working in e.g. new Alternative Business Structures (ABS).
Some Costs Lawyers have 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.
As regulated lawyers, Costs Lawyers are authorised to undertake specific reserved legal activities
- The conduct of litigation
- The administration of oaths
- The exercise of a right of audience, which means that you could appear in court on behalf of your clients on matters relating to costs.
They adhere to regulatory rules including a code of conduct, undertake continuing professional development and carry professional indemnity insurance.
Why qualify as a Costs Lawyer?
- Become a qualified, regulated lawyer on an equal professional footing with a solicitor, barrister and other regulated legal professionals
- Be able to undertake the reserved legal activities, in particular, rights of audience, so you can be heard by judges
- Enhance your confidence in court as a result of gaining rights of audience
- Enhance client and public confidence in you. You are qualified, regulated and required to adhere to strict codes of conduct, practising rules and regulations and continuing professional development
- Be an advocate for consumers through your work
- Enhance your professional standing among other lawyers, in the courts and with the judiciary
- Be able to charge higher fees compared to non-qualified and non-regulated costs law professionals
- Be an integral part of a qualified and regulated legal team
- Demonstrate your commitment to costs law and your career
- Improve your employability and promotion prospects and higher salary - you are regulated, not your firm, wherever you choose to work
The career of a Costs Lawyer
Oliver is currently on the final year of the ACLT course. Read more about his costs law career.
Amy is a Senior Costs Lawyer. Read more about her costs law career.
Louise is currently on the final year of the ACLT course. Read more about her costs law career.
Victoria, on the right, recently completed the ACLT course. She was awarded the ACL prize cup for the academic year 2022, by Erica Bedford, as the ACLT student with the highest overall course mark. Read more about her costs law career.
Costs Lawyers represent the interests of their clients and provide advice regarding, for example:
- fees paid for legal advice to e.g. solicitors or barristers.
- costs of bringing a case to court
- costs of defending a case in court
- costs between parties in a case
- Legal aid/public funding.
Costs Lawyers have rights of audience so can represent clients in court on matters relating to costs. They can also be called as expert witnesses on costs in a legal case.
A Costs Lawyer is an integral part of a 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.
Day to day, you may use your expertise in costs law to:
- advise on retainers and fee arrangements between clients and their legal advisors
- act as mediator or arbitrator in costs disputes before it goes to court
- advocate yourself at detailed costs hearings in court
- act as expert witness in court
- attend, or instruct other counsel to attend, detailed assessment hearings
- advise on costs offers
- advise on legal aid costs
You may use your technical costs skills to:
- prepare costs budgets
- draft bills of costs and schedules
- draft points of dispute and replies to points of dispute on costs
- prepare documents for the courts on budget issues
The Association of Costs Lawyers (ACL) as the professional body for Costs Lawyers and the Costs Lawyers Standards Board (CLSB) as the regulator for the profession both provide information on what a Costs Lawyer is and the work that they carry out.
Where do Costs Lawyers work?*
Costs law firm
SRA-regulated law firm
Other types of employer e.g. charities, ABS
Public sector e.g. government
* Statistics taken from Hook Tangaza report prepared for the CLSB, 2021
* Images taken from Hook Tangaza report prepared for the CLSB, 2021
Costs Lawyer salary
The salary range for a qualified Costs Lawyer varies depending upon geographical location, type of employer and years of experience.
Recent roles advertised offer salaries ranging from £45,000 to £65,000