10 Essential ways you can keep your legal fees down

1.   Speak honestly with your lawyer from the beginning.

When you give your initial instructions to your lawyers, they will ask you to explain all of the facts and give all of the documentary evidence from the outset.

If after proceedings have been issued, it can be established that your initial instructions were not completely full and frank, this could compromise your case and add to your legal costs.

As your Lawyers charge on a time basis, it is important to give clear and full instructions.

2.   Organise your documents and material.

By giving your Lawyers all your documents and material in a detailed, organised and chronological order it will save time and reduce your legal costs. These documents will often be used in providing evidence in your case, so the faster your Lawyers can understand what you have presented them with the better.

Remember your Lawyer will charge you for all perusals of material in your case so the better organised you are, the quicker it will be for your Lawyer to digest the information.

3.  Be prepared for meetings and telephone calls – make a list.

Collect your thoughts and questions before a meeting or telephone call to minimise asking the same question twice. The clearer your questions are the faster your lawyers can answer them and begin to give you advice.

4.  Think about taking notes at meetings.

Taking notes at meetings or during telephone advices can help to clarify the advice that your lawyers are giving you.  Conferences can be highly pressured especially if there are a lot of complex issues. Keeping up with all the advice and possible directions for action can be confusing.

Often a client will call back a day after a conference with the same questions as they have forgotten what was said at the conference.  Remember, your Lawyers will charge you for all time spent including answering phone calls.

5.  The golden rule is don’t call or email every time something “pops into your head”.

If there is an emergency that requires you to call your lawyer immediately then you will need to do so, but in most cases it is more cost effective to amass a number of questions together and email them in one go.

Your Lawyer will charge a minimum charge for each time he or she looks at an email or receives a phone call even if it does not take the full amount of the minimum time. By putting a number of questions and requests together, you can use your Lawyer’s time more effectively.

6. Remember your Lawyer is a trained professional.

Many clients read information from the internet and ask friends for advice and then call their Lawyer regularly to double check that he or she is doing the “right thing”.

More often than not their information is wrong or half right as they do not have all of the facts and therefore have not considered the entirety of the situation as your Lawyer would.

Furthermore, they do not understand the legal system and their advice will simply confuse you.  You can be sure that your legal costs will increase rapidly by constantly engaging with your lawyer to double check his advice.

7.  The Legal process can be a slow.

Remember that the legal system has rules and regulation that need to be followed from one stage to the next in order to proceed to an end result.  By trying to speed things up and constantly asking if there is any news, you will often be adding to your Lawyer’s time to answer when there is nothing to report.

Be appreciative of the fact the when there is something to report your Lawyer will most certainly contact you.

8.  Respond to your Lawyers quickly when they request information or to arrange a conference.

As Lawyers work is costed on time spent on your file, they need to keep working on new aspects of your matter and not continuously repeat requests for information or for you to contact the office to arrange a meeting.  Your Lawyer will charge you for follow up calls to repeat already requested information and to leave telephone messages for you to contact them.

A further unintended consequence of not responding to requests for information and conferences when asked by your Lawyers is that they may not be able to meet deadlines for submissions in your case, and this will ultimately lead to further legal costs for unnecessary appeals and motions.

9.   Be realistic not emotional with the expectations of your potential outcomes.

Often clients miss an opportunity to settle a case as they have unrealistic expectations of what are their entitlements.  Listen to your Lawyer and understand the advice that they give you so that you can make an informed decision when you are asked.

Additionally, your matter can be a very emotional and upsetting process.  Rely on your skilled legal team to navigate you through these difficult times as they are trained professionals who are able to deal with the issues as they arise by thinking in a clear and concise manner to map out a strategy and pathway to an end result.

10.  Look at the big picture, don’t get bogged down by the detail.

Many clients ask their legal team to fight over small issues that have a monetary value of less than the legal fees needed to fight for them.  It is important to understanding that the big picture is your main claim, and that it is the most important issue, especially at mediation.

It is also useful to remember that in a fair settlement each side must let go of some of the little issues in order to deal with the big issues.  If you continually ask your legal team to spend unnecessary time on fighting the small issues you will add to your legal costs and potentially miss out on a mediated settlement.

CYNGLER KAYE LEVY LAWYERS          www.ckllaw.com.au            +61 3 9500 1722           ckl@ckllaw.com.au