Hiring legal counsel to represent you in the instance of a civil or criminal trial can be expensive. When it comes to a criminal proceeding after you have been convicted of a felony or a misdemeanor, you definitely get what you pay for. The same goes for civil and tort law, you could hire a back alley lawyer to stand by your side in a divorce or bankruptcy trial, but what if you get a bum deal because of their incompetence? Fortunately, there is always a way to save money on legal counsel without sacrificing quality. Here are 5 strategies for saving money on legal fees.
- Make sure you have a list of all your questions and concerns ready. Most lawyers charge by the hour, which can cost as much as $600 per hour. Oftentimes a lawyer will charge a whole hour even though you only had a 15 minute long phone conversation. If you don’t want the risk of racking up additional legal fees, it is wise to consolidate all your questions into a reasonable timeframe. Remember, the less conversations and even emails you send, the less you will have to pay in legal fees.
- Make sure that you don’t have any social conversations with your lawyer – on the phone, in his or her office or in the courtroom. Any chitchat will cost you. If you start developing a friendship with your lawyer, make sure that you aren’t paying for it by the hour. You can do this by simply asking your counsel whether your conversation is off or on the clock. A lawyer’s time is very valuable so usually everything is on the clock. In order to avoid exorbitant fees, keep the personal conversations to a minimum.
- Make sure that you have all your ducks in a row. Oftentimes, people hide important documents that they think might hurt them financially – either from their own lawyer or the plaintiff. However, the longer your lawyer has to spend looking for records – private and public – the longer he or she has to spend on working your case. Needless to say, this all dictates how much you are going to spend in legal fees. So, if you have everything prepared and organized, you can significantly reduce your legal expenses.
- Make sure to do your research. Sometimes not doing your research is the easiest way to lose big time on a litigation proceeding. This could be because the lawyer was incompetent or unskilled, or because your legal counsel doesn’t have enough experience. For instance, finding a firm, like Gullands in the U.K., which has a rich history spanning over 100 years will always be a better choice than that firm you found on a bus stop bench.
- Make sure to have an airtight case. Sometimes having an airtight case is all you need to get an affordable rate on a legal team – maybe even pro-bono. Depending on the size of the damages that could be awarded – if you have a case with a high probability of winning, chances are good that you will find gratis legal counsel, because they will take their fees out of the total winnings. So, make sure that you have the burden of proof and the evidence to back it up.