A gang of robbers broke into a lawyer’s club by mistake. The old legal lions gave them a fight for their life and their money. The gang was very happy to escape.”It ain’t so bad,” one crook noted. “We got $25 between us.”The boss screamed: “I warned you to stay clear of lawyers! We had $100 when we broke in!”
As much as we hate to admit it, lawyers have a reputation as being expensive. Fortunately, most of our clients see the value and benefit in hiring an experienced lawyer to represent them in court however there is no denying that legal representation does come at a cost.
Having said there, there are a number of ways that you can reduce legal fees, provided that you are willing to put in a bit of work. Here are our top 5 suggestions:
Only contact your lawyer if you have something definite to talk about
It can be tempting to want to call your lawyer for regular updates on your case. It is only fair that you know what is happening with your case at all times. However if your lawyer charges you for their time, it is likely that they will be charging you every time you call them. This can come as quite a shock when you receive your next bill!
Although it is only right that you are kept updated, there will be times when your lawyer does not have anything to update you on simply due to the stage or progress of your court case. Therefore we recommend that you only contact your lawyer if you have a specific question to ask or issue to discuss. All other times, your lawyer should be updating you as and when necessary.
Prepare thoroughly for conferences
If you have a conference booked with your lawyer, it is vital that you prepare for it beforehand. If you turn up for the conference unprepared, it will cause the conference to drag out and remember – in most cases, you are paying for your time with your lawyer so each minute costs you.
To prepare, you should do the minimum at the very least:
- Ask your lawyer if there is anything that you need to bring and make sure that you bring it;
- Write a list of questions that you want to ask during the conference;
- Arrive to the conference on time. Your lawyer will no doubt be extremely busy and therefore you should make sure that you maximise the available time that you do have with your lawyer.
If you are thoroughly prepared for the conference, you will leave feeling much more confident plus you will also save financially.
Offer to do some of your own research
Depending on your situation it is likely that your lawyer will need to spend a considerable amount of time researching the factual and legal issues relevant to your case. While your lawyer is undoubtedly the best person to engage in the legal research, there might be some factual research you can do on your own. For example, you might be able to locate witnesses or documents that could assist your lawyer to prepare your case. You could also draft timelines or prepare statements outlining the facts surrounding your case.
As long as you don’t overwhelm your lawyer with hundreds of pages of entirely irrelevant material, it is likely that your lawyer will appreciate that work that you have done and won’t need to do the same research themselves, saving you on legal fees.
Make sure you understand your responsibilities
If you lawyer has asked you to do something, there will be a reason for that request. It is time-consuming and ultimately costly for clients if the progress of their case is delayed due to clients not understanding what they were meant to and therefore not doing what was required.
Your lawyer should be willing to take the time necessary to explain your responsibilities in clear terms. If you are unsure or confused about any request, you should immediately raise this with your lawyer. This will ensure that you know exactly what you need to do.
Be honest with your lawyer, even if the truth hurts
There may be times when your lawyer asks you a question but you simply don’t want to answer it. You might be embarrassed by the answer or worried that it will damage your case.
At the end of the day, your lawyer is there to help you. If you hide important information or details, this could not only unnecessarily delay your case (which ends up costing you more money) but it could even destroy your case altogether (which is nothing but a waste of your money).
It is therefore extremely important that you are open and honest with your lawyer at all times. If you don’t feel like you can be honest with your current lawyer, it may be necessary to change your legal representative so that you can work with someone you trust.
Fixed Legal Fees
It is becoming increasingly common for law firms to offer fixed legal fees instead of charging for their time. This means that you are given a quote which should cover all work carried out on your behalf, along with any phone calls, conference and so on.
This is the approach taken by our firm, Harper Finch Lawyers. In almost all cases, we provide our clients with a fixed quote which gives them peace of mind. There are no unexpected bills arriving in the mail and they know that they can call us anytime, day or night, at no additional cost to them.
If you are seeking legal representation, it may therefore be worth discussing the option of fixed legal fees with your lawyer. However if this is not an option, you can at least follow our recommendations above to save yourself on legal fees.