Thursday, December 13, 2012

How to Reduce your Legal Fees

As professions go, lawyers are probably among the most maligned out there. You definitely want a "barracuda" on your side but the moment an attorney starts serving you papers they become the bane of your existence.

If you're in business, you need a lawyer. Hopefully it will only be for the start-up and lease negotiation process and not defending you in a lawsuit.

Even with the simple contract work, legal fees can take a huge chunk out of your bottom line.

How can you reduce your legal fees? Consider these ideas: 

1)  Be clear on what you’re paying for

Before entering into any arrangement with a lawyer you should understand their billing practices. Instead of billing for every piece of work on an hourly basis, your potential attorney could work on a flat fee. This is a good arrangement especially if you are looking for contract review and not a lot of back and forth "fixes."

Understanding what you're paying for also means going over your bill every month. If something doesn't look right, ask your attorney for clarification.

Make sure to keep track of your own contacts with the lawyer to compare with the bill.

2) Think before you call or email

Having a lawyer at your disposal is a bit like living with a doctor; you just can't resist the urge to ask about every question that pops in your head. Just know that with a lawyer you're going to be billed for every phone call and email that you send.

Even if it takes them 30 seconds to respond, they're going to charge you at least a quarter of an hour.

All of this means to plan before you communicate. You might be able to answer your own question and save yourself some bucks.

3) Do some of the work yourself

Always keep in mind that lawyers will bill for everything. Reduce costs and time by making copies and delivering documents on your own. Also, try to respond in a timely manner whenever your attorney requests information. If they have to keep reminding you to submit something, that will be another charge.

4) Don't hesitate to shop around

Nurture a great working relationship with your lawyer. It could make all the difference. However, if you find them doing the kind of basic work that any decent attorney could do, you might be well advised to shop around. Find out what other attorney's are charging. Ask your friends who they use. Remember that the lawyer is working for you!