The legal profession is one of few remaining professions that charges in units of time. This can be confusing for non-lawyers or those who have been fortunate enough to avoid needing a lawyer.
Most law firms bill according to the time invested in completing a task to resolve some of the confusion in the simplest way possible.
Let’s say, for example, a lawyer charges $400 per hour, and that lawyer prepares a letter for you, which takes an hour, then you would be charged $400 for that letter. If that letter took 30 minutes to prepare, you would be charged $200, and the invoice for that letter would be sent after the work has been performed.
So, if a Houston divorce lawyer controls how much time it takes to complete a task, how can you reduce legal costs? A perfectly valid question of which most lawyers won’t answer. Regardless of the type of legal issues, these easy tips will help to slash your legal fees.
Ask For Itemised Invoices
In practice today, most law firms bill monthly and put little to no detail in the invoice other than a lump sum cost – period. Who in their right mind would pay any sizeable invoice within a timeframe without any information on it?
If you’re lucky, they might put the total of hours worked, without detail, without a breakdown leaving you with no idea where your money is being spent or one who.
If you are working with a Fort Worth adoption agency that provides itemised invoices, then before you begrudgingly pay the invoice, spend some time looking through your invoice. When you receive your bill, familiarise yourself with each of the components like:
- the units – this is the time invested in completing a task
- the description – this should be a detailed breakdown of what your lawyer has done for you
- the author – is the person who completed the task
- the outlays – these are the costs for printing, scanning, 3rd party fees, and the like
The separate principle from commercial decisions
At different points in your matter, you will be given guidance and be asked to make decisions, some easy, others not so much.
The most difficult decisions you will be asked to make are those that challenge your principles and expectations of your outcome. A lawyers’ job is to protect clients and achieve the best result possible in the circumstances.
With most matters, there comes the point when you need to make a decision that isn’t aligned with your principles, expectations, or values but can resolve your issue.
Sometimes it may be worthwhile to swallow your pride in the interests of finalising your matter and avoiding further legal costs.
Avoid Court where possible.
It sounds ridiculous when a lawyer tells you to avoid going to Court. However, a lawyer with your needs and interests in mind should be advising you about all the possible options before proceeding to Court.
Granted, some matters warrant the Court’s intervention though these are few and far between. Most cases can be resolved through collaborative and strategic negotiations or alternative dispute resolution processes such as mediation or arbitration.
The minute you step in front of a Judge, not only are you faced with the burden of significant legal fees, but you also lose an element of control in that you are at the mercy of the Judge, who will decide how your matter is resolved.
If that isn’t enough to encourage you to exhaust all your options, consider the hours’ lawyer labour over court documents, not to mention the time your lawyer spends in court.
Fee arrangements for your case
One ubiquitous question that almost every client has asked or will be a lawyer or colleague is, how much will this cost?
Hourly Rate – Because most law firms charge on an hourly basis, the answer is usually cliché, such as how long is a piece of string. Unfortunately, this is the reality of the situation as it is difficult to tell how long any task will take. Based upon an hourly rate, it is nearly impossible to give an accurate estimate of costs.
Fixed Fee – fixed fee options give more certainty of costs, so be very mindful of ‘extra’ or hidden charges. For instance, fixed fee conveyancing that exclude searches or printing costs.
Cost assessed – This is an ancient school method of estimating your legal fees, commonly performed after the matter has started, or in some cases, even after it has been finalised.
No win – no fee – The ultimate smoke and mirrors slogan, commonly misinterpreted for we do all the work, you do nothing, and get all the money (excluding a small fee).