This question is a real “pain point” between clients and their lawyers. Clients want to know, and deserve to know. But usually the best a lawyer can do is give you a range of costs based on a range of potential paths and outcomes.
The vast majority of lawyers in Canada are still charging clients by the hour: that is, the lawyer tracks the amount of time they spend working on your file (in 1/10 of an hour increments), whether that’s emailing you, speaking with you on the phone, doing legal research applicable to your case, drafting documents, speaking in court, or even the time waiting in chambers court for your application to get called. Time spent does not necessarily translate to value received, or results obtained.
That pricing model, combined with all the factors that can prolong or complicate your path to resolution, means the only thing most lawyers can tell you for sure is how much they charge per hour.
Things are changing, in favour of clients.
More lawyers are educating themselves on how to ethically and effectively aid clients to manage their own legal issues with a little legal help, by offering “unbundled” legal services and “flat fee” service packages. That enables clients to put a brake on their legal expenses, and often to move toward resolution at the pace and price-point that best fits their needs.