Lawyers are expensive. Most charge by the hour. So time, is literally money. But how can you reduce your legal bill without jeopardising your case. Here are a few ideas.
Read your paperwork about costs and first bill properly. Lawyers have to explain the way they charge. You might be given some long, boring costs paperwork at the start of your legal process by your lawyer. Read it. If you don’t understand it, ask for clarification. Carefully look at the part of the document which explains how you are charged and what you are charged for. By reading this document properly you will understand just how much each phone call/ email/ photocopy is costing you and are able to be more mindful of how you use your lawyer’s time.
Also, read the first bill properly. Look for areas where you might be able to cut back on your costs (for example if you are emailing a number of times a day, when it could all be put in one email). If your bills are not itemised, ask for an itemised one to be provided. If you haven’t received a bill and you are over a month into your case, ask for one.
Ask your lawyer what you can do. If you want to reduce your legal bill, ask your lawyer what you can do to save them time (and you money). There may be tasks in your case a lawyer will do or they will delegate to an administrative assistant or paralegal which you could do instead. Some examples are picking up and dropping off documents (to save courier fees), attending court to file urgent documents (depending on your case, this may literally just involve lining up and handing over the documents) or photocopying your financial documents before you deliver them to their offices (to save them doing it and charging you for it).
Be mindful of how you communicate with your lawyer. If you want to discuss something with your lawyer, prepare. Write a list of questions you want answered to ensure your conversation is focused and you don’t overlook something (which then means you need to make another call). If you are sending an email or letter, draft something first and if time permits, sit on it for a while. You are better to send one email with all of your issues and concerns rather than multiple emails in a short period – each being charged for.
Follow your lawyer’s instructions. If they ask you to provide them with something (a response, notes, documents) get clear on the time frame required and then do it. Costs are unnecessarily run up when your lawyer follows you up countless times for the same thing.
Be organised. Be organised in your communications with your lawyer and in the documentation and information you give them. If your case involves property and you’ve been asked to provide financial documentation, dropping in a box of your jumbled up bank statements, tax returns and other financial papers is creating work for your lawyer you could do yourself. Put things in order, index them, put them in folders with pretty little tabs. Do whatever it takes to make your lawyer’s job easier, because ultimately this will save you money. If you are sending through emails or text messages, to be used in your case, put them in date order. If your lawyer wants you to provide information for an affidavit, provide concise, well thought through notes, in dot points, with headings – again whatever makes it easy to read and understand. Your journal is a place for your musings, venting and blow by blow account of your daily married life, it just takes your lawyer longer to sift through it.
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