It doesn't have to be so expensive.
It's just that the law firms, boutiques, or their likes practicing patent law are focused on serving bigger mostly corporate clients rather than individual inventors.
When it comes to an invention which is more about an idea and less about technology, you don't need PhDs spending hours reviewing the art let alone attorneys.
In addition, firms charge more money per hour for small clients than those bigger corporate accounts that generate vast volumes. You can't really blame them as that's how business works, but it's unfortunate that there are few options for individuals and small businesses.
There are alternative, smarter ways to work with attorneys thanks to the internet.
It won't be easy to find them because the internet search usually shows heavily advertised service first, which can be cheap but not necessarily a better deal. At all times, make sure that you're working with a patent attorney/agent who's registered with the USPTO.
Go back to see other topics in the Patent Basics