The cost of legal fees can be rather expensive for most people. Luckily, there are simple things you can do to save money on legal fees over time, such as choosing the right attorney and doing some of the legwork up front. Additionally, having a solid understanding of the different types of legal fees will help ensure a good working relationship with your attorney. In the end, it will also help your bottom line.
Below are six ways to lower your legal fees and reduce the overall costs of legal representation.
Choose Your Lawyer Wisely
You have a choice when it comes to selecting a lawyer, and there are several types of law firms from which to choose. You may have to do a little homework, but choosing the right attorney can save you hundreds or maybe even thousands of dollars in legal fees.
Why? First, you'll be involved in a working relationship with your lawyer. The more comfortable you feel working with them, the smoother the process will be (not to mention avoiding the need to hire a new attorney mid-way through your case). Secondly, hiring a solo practitioner or lawyer at a small law firm can sometimes lower your overall legal costs since those fees are often lower than at large firms.
Ask for a Flat Fee Arrangement
There are several common types of legal fee arrangements used by lawyers, including hourly rates, contingency fees, and flat fee arrangements. If your case is relatively routine, such as a will or uncontested divorce, you could consider asking for a flat-fee agreement based on a predetermined amount to help lower your legal fees. Then you will know exactly what you are paying for, and you can budget accordingly without any surprises.
Do Some of the Work Yourself
People often mistakenly believe that once they hire a lawyer their work is done. Depending on the nature of your case, you can save on legal fees throughout the duration of your case by doing some of the work on your own.
This may include prep work, such as gathering any necessary documents and providing the attorney with as much relevant information as possible concerning your legal matter. Be sure to check with your lawyer beforehand, however, to avoid doing work that will duplicate or hinder the attorney's progress.
Limit Phone Calls and Emails to Your Lawyer
The saying "time is money, money is time" applies equally to legal fees. When your lawyer takes a call or responds to an email on your behalf, you might end up paying for the time spent (if on an hourly plan, for example). Instead, you can save money by providing all the necessary information up front or at periodic checkpoints and by scheduling a more meaningful meeting instead of making frequent phone or email contact.
Consider Alternatives to Hiring a Lawyer
Some legal matters may be handled alone or with the help of non-lawyers, such as disputes over small sums of money.
Talk About Your Budget
If you worry about what legal representation will cost, you should address this as early as possible at your initial consultation. Many attorneys will give you an estimate of what you can expect to pay. If you will not be able to afford their services, they can refer you to a different attorney who will still provide quality representation. However, you shouldn’t wait to be surprised by an unexpectedly high bill.