There are many ways to save costs on patent drafting. You can do a search beforehand; you can work on the idea with someone else so that you can explain it well and identify the new elements; you can have some good drawings prepared.
Even if you do all of that, there is one critical thing you need to do: ask your patent attorney/agent how fast they can type. If you are paying by the hour, and even if you are not, you don’t want someone who types at 5 words per minute to pound out a 20 page patent application.
Many years ago, long before I even thought of practicing patent law, I visited an attorney to have a will drawn. The attorney was a long lost friend of my uncle, and said that he would bill at $200/hr and he expected it to take an hour to an hour and a half. In no case would it exceed two hours.
During a quick tour of his home and office (I didn’t know that the clock was running at the time), he wanted to show me his computerized library of CD’s. I was absolutely horrified at the sight of him peering over the keyboard with two index fingers extended, slowly searching for each letter of the title of a CD. While he was doing this, I quietly asked if he had a secretary do his legal work and he readily assured me that he did it all himself. I had that sinking feeling inside me.
Needless to say, I was billed for the maximum amount for my will.
It seems that many of the attorneys much over the age of 40 have non-existent typing skills. Many of them dictate their work, and must pay a secretary to transcribe and format the documents. While this system has some advantages, (namely that the attorney can dictate while he is in the car and bill you while running to the grocery store), dictation is generally more inefficient that someone who can type, and the turn around time is always longer.
I took typing class in high school on manual typewriters, where there was only one other boy in the class. I did it so that I could join the computer club at the school, which was a proud recipient of a DEC PDP/11 with 1 CRT and 3 teletype terminals. I am dating myself, but it just was not popular to take typing class way back then. Consequently, hardly any older men know how to type, unless they learned it later in life.
Occasionally, I speak to school children about math and careers. Near the end of the talk, after describing all of the different courses I took in high school, undergraduate, and graduate school, I ask them what is the single most important class I took. The answer: Typing. If you don’t know how to type, it is like running with a limp for the rest of your life.