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Why Does It Cost So Much?


Recently, I was talking to my mother (who lives one of the lesser nine provinces outside of Alberta) and she was complaining about the amount of money it cost her to tidy up a few legal loose ends following the passing of my Dad. As the only lawyer in my extended family, my Mom (a retired accountant) put me on the spot to explain the costs she had to pay, with a look that implied that I must also justify the existence of my profession. (I’m assuming she looked like that because we were actually on the phone at the time. You can insert “an awkward silence” for “a look” and probably get the same effect.)

I explained Patriot Law Group’s dim view of the billable hour and the way we price our services but my explanation of our practices didn’t answer the question she had. I brought up the hoary old cliché used by building contractors: “Good, fast, cheap: pick two.” But that didn’t quite resonate for her, either. She wanted to know “why”, not “how” (although she mercifully stopped short of demanding that I formulate a complete economic and sociological justification for the capitalist free market system).

The “why” boils down to the nature of the work we do and the sizeable risks people need to manage in their lifetimes. In the legal profession, we routinely assist people to navigate the most important and stressful events in a person’s life. Beyond the physical and emotional stress of these events, there are typically very significant legal and financial aspects attached. It pays to handle these events properly.

In the legal world, agreements, contracts and documents work great until they don’t. When handled improperly, things can go pear-shaped in dramatic fashion. An incomplete or ambiguous Will could cost the estate thousands of dollars in legal fees to determine who the beneficiaries are and what their entitlements are. A poorly-drafted settlement agreement to a divorce might not provide the clear and final settlement of spousal support that was intended, leaving the door open to expensive disagreements later on. A carelessly-handled real estate conveyance might miss encroachments shown in the real property report that could cost thousands of dollars to rectify.

At Patriot Law Group, we take care to handle the legal parts your matter in the right way to protect you from needless risks and, by doing so, we try to minimize the stress that come with life’s big events. It’s a big responsibility that we take very seriously. And that’s why we charge for what we do.