Is there a way to predict how much a lawsuit will cost before it is started? I am deciding if it's worth it to hire a lawyer. At a high level I would like another party to stop doing what it's doing. I had a free consultation with a firm where I gave them the details of the scenario and what I would like to happen. They said that the next step would be for them to do research to see if anything can be done and find the likelihood of success. They gave me a fixed price which is $$$. Should I ask how much it would likely cost to proceed with legal action if there is legal action that could be taken? I'm guessing it's not possible for them to no this until after the initial research. I don't want to be in the situation where I spend money and have them tell me that there is something that can be done but it would cost an exuberant amount more.

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    Very likely no because you never know how far you are going to push/be pushed (trial/appeal/further courts...) and how much the lawyers would end up working for your case Jan 12 at 9:24
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    @NicolasFormichella An experienced lawyer (or their billing department) should definitely know how much the typical case in their area of practice costs. It is true that the risk of no settlement/appeal, or very tricky evidentiary matters, can make an enormous difference (easily tenfold) in legal costs, but those are rare deviations from the norm.
    – KFK
    Jan 12 at 10:00
  • OP, knowing the rough outline of what you want to stop might help. No need for exact details but "my crazy ex is calling me every day" requires a very different lawyer from "my neighbour is trimming their tree and branches fall in my yard" which itself is very different from "my company’s patent is infringed on by another company". The cost structure of those different cases differs a lot; "we have no idea at all until we do preliminary research" might be reasonable in some cases but not others.
    – KFK
    Jan 12 at 10:17

1 Answer 1


A law firm can try to estimate the cost of taking legal action at very general and rough level.

But it is almost impossible to accurately determine the legal fees that will be incurred in litigation because the cost is highly dependent upon how the other party acts, how the court acts, and what evidence reveals, in ways that are not possible to accurately predict at the outset.

An accurate estimate is, in general, only possible in the case of very simple cases that proceed with no unexpected twists or turns. For a lawyer with a general civil practice, those cases make up perhaps 5% of the cases that they handle.

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