updated on 30 March 2015
The introduction of the Jackson Reforms on 1 April 2013 put countless constraints on legal professionals, arguably making it more difficult for them to do their jobs. Despite these changes, and others, over the past couple of years, it has never been a more exciting and interesting time for those working in the world of legal costs.
Recent reforms have forced many solicitors to be more open minded about how they gain access to finance, which has in turn increased the demand for legal costs professionals (widely known as 'costs draftsmen'). More lawyers in areas such as personal injury have been turning to costs draftsmen for help and advice with cashflow. Recognising this trend, more students are applying to learn the tools of the costs trade; the Association of Costs Lawyers (ACL) recently reported that it had seen an upswing in the number of students applying for its revamped costs qualification, which started in September last year.
One of the effects of the Jackson Reforms has been that additional costs incurred during a civil case, such as insurance premiums and success fees, are no longer paid out by the losing party. It has also been bad news for the personal injury sector, with referral fees banned and a fixed recoverable costs regime implemented in their place in cases of a certain value. Many legal professionals are worried that the reforms will cause significant cashflow problems for firms, with some afraid to take on new claims as a result.
Thankfully, in the most part, this hasn’t been the case. Not only has there not been a drop in the number of claimants seeking help with their lawsuits, the changes have also sparked increased demand for the specialised services of costs draftsmen.
While discussing the subject of legal finance may have been considered taboo in the past, an increasing number of UK solicitors are realising that they need help to find the best funding options. When you’ve got a full schedule of case work, it can make sense to look to a third-party expert for help with legal costs.
The legal costs industry is evolving rapidly and the demand for costs draftsmen is only likely to increase over the next few years. If you’re struggling to pick a legal specialty and are looking for job security, you ought to consider a career in legal costs.
Those who train and work as costs draftsmen develop highly coveted skills that are used in all areas of law. Draftsmen are called upon to: deal with drafting bills of costs, schedules and budgets; attend case/costs management conferences and detailed assessments; prepare points of dispute and replies; and many more sought after legal costs services.
If you’re looking to work in a fast-paced and ever-changing industry, the world of legal costs is the place to be, as it’s where some of the most exciting – not to mention controversial – legal changes are taking place.
Harriet Wilby is the editor at costs consultants firm, Lawlords.