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How to Avoid Jaw-Dropping Legal Bills

By Edward Tan, JD | Last updated on

Business owners big and small know the sting of attorney fees. Figuring out how to avoid astronomical legal bills might seem impossible. After all, you need lawyers to keep your company on the up and up.

However, that doesn't mean you have to be gouged along the way. Growing a business can be impossible without good cash flow. And high legal bills can delay your expansion.

But fear not, there are things you can do to curb this beast. Here are five tips to keep your lawyer fees to a minimum.

1) Get Estimates for the Scope of Representation

You wouldn't hire a contractor to build a house without asking his fee, so why do that with your lawyer? Whether you need one for a single project or long-term representation, lay out the scope of work needed and find out how much it'll cost.

2) Try to Negotiate a Flat-Fee Agreement

A surefire way to prevent sticker shock is by hiring a lawyer for a flat-fee. While there are some lawyers who won't play ball, remember that there are plenty of fish in the sea. You'll eventually be able to find an attorney willing to work with you.

3) Check in Every Week/Month on Your Bill

Much like forest fires, legal bills are at their worst when left alone. Setting a billing cap is an easy way to control them. Requiring your firm to get your permission every time work exceeds a set spending limit will help you cut your bills drastically. And remember to also get regular fee statements.

4) Prep Documents Before You Send Them Off

If someone dropped a mountain of papers on your desk and told you to sort through them, you'd probably be angry. For lawyers, this is like Christmas (the billing part at least, not the actual sorting). You can save yourself a lot of money by finding and organizing your paperwork yourself before sending it off to your attorney.

5) Get an Experienced Specialty Lawyer

This last one might sound like it'll end up costing you more, but the reality is usually the opposite. While new lawyers often charge less, they can also take longer to do the same work as a veteran.

Also, though it might be tempting to retain a big fancy law firm, small boutique firms can be better. Look for one that specializes in your type of business. They can be your answer to figuring out how to avoid jaw-dropping legal bills.

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