What is a Costs lawyer?
A Costs lawyer is a specialist lawyer who deals with all areas of costs in legal work. They can be appointed by courts, solicitors, members of the public and businesses to undertake specific work including:
- drafting Bills and Schedules of Costs;
- drafting Points of Dispute and Replies to claims for costs;
- assisting in the preparation of costs budgets and advise on costs budgets presented by an opposing party;
- advising on retainers and fee arrangements between clients and their legal advisors;
- advising on and prepare claims for costs from public funds (Legal Aid);
- advising on disputes between solicitors and their clients;
- acting as costs mediators or arbitrators in costs disputes;
Costs lawyers are regulated by the Costs Lawyers Standards Board (CLSB) and, as regulated legal professionals, 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.
As a costs lawyer you would have a career in law, with a focus on financial analysis. You would have to adhere to a code of conduct, undertake continuing professional development and carry professional indemnity insurance.
Qualifying as a Costs Lawyer
What do I need to get started?
Entry requirements (September 2023)
You don’t have to be a qualified lawyer, or to have previously studied law, to qualify as a costs lawyer.
A prior qualification is not required for entry. However, as the Costs Lawyer qualification and its constituent parts are assessed at the Regulations Qualification Framework (RQF) Level 6 it is recommended that students are able to demonstrate prior qualification equivalent to RQF Level 3 (GCSEs or equivalent) at grade C/4 in GCSE English Language and Mathematics, or have previous work experience.
The minimum age of an applicant to start the Costs Lawyer qualification is 18. Students must be 18 at the date on which study will commence with ACLT. This recommendation is in line with courses of a similar equivalent academic level e.g. undergraduate law degree.
Just like everyone else who applies, mature students need to demonstrate academic ability and commitment to study.
What are the education requirements?
The Association of Costs Lawyers (ACL) is the representative body for Costs Lawyers and is responsible for the training required to qualify.
The Association of Cost Lawyers Training (ACLT), is the training arm of the ACL and delivers the only course leading to qualification as a Costs Lawyer.
A new qualification is in the process of being reviewed by the Costs Lawyers Standards Board (CLSB) as part of a formal accreditation process. There may, therefore, be changes to the course structure and content prior to final accreditation.
At present, the new course will run over two years, providing a structured learning programme. Each year is then broken down into individual components and then further into individual modules. All modules are compulsory unless exemptions have been granted at the start of the course. Each module will include self-guided learning, self-assessment exercises as well as summative written or face to face assessments and/or exams.
Further information about the course is available on our website in the Costs Lawyers Qualifying Course Information section.
What are the work experience requirements?
Qualifying work experience
In addition to completing the course, you would also need to undertake three years of supervised practice, which can be done before, during or after the Costs Lawyer Qualification course.
Further information about training to qualify as a costs lawyer can be found in our Costs Lawyers section.
What else do I need?
Apply for a Costs Lawyer practising certificate
When you have successfully completed both the course and your supervised practice, you can then apply to the CLSB for a Costs Lawyer practising certificate.