The cost of a solicitor (otherwise known as a Lawyer) can be one of the most expensive things you will ever encounter. Some lawyers charge set fees for things like property work, though you will find for most other transactions with a lawyer it will be based upon time.
Lawyers hourly rates can begin at $100 per hour all the way up to over $1000 depending on the firm you require.
When doing property work, it is best to receive estimates from numerous law firms to see what their costs are as the fees are typically set in concrete, making it easy to shop around for lawyers.
If the legal work you require is more open-ended, which can include court cases – lawyers use a method called ‘time costing’ whereby they charge hourly rates. Something people don’t realise is that even a phone call to your lawyer will be added to the bill under this method.
Quick tips for minimising legal fees to save money:
- Request a written estimate fee before the lawyer starts any work
- Request that the lawyer inform you well in advance should the costs be predicted to be higher. Try and ensure this is in writing with the cost agreement above.
- If you are working with your lawyer on a ‘time costing’ hourly basis, ensure you don’t waste their time. Provide all documents requested and don’t make small phone calls when you can research yourself.
- If you are engaged in a court case, it is suggested that you try and settle as soon as possible. Don’t hold out for a result that may or may not be achievable regardless of what your lawyer suggests.
- When comparing flat fee quotes, request a full description from each lawyer or firm to ensure you are comparing apples with apples.
- Ask your lawyer whether there will be any ‘disbursements’. Disbursements are basically fees that the lawyer will have to pay on your behalf. This can include the costs associated with accessing title searches, court filing fees and more. It is said that some lawyers make a profit on these disbursements by rounding up costs or changing the cost of a courier for instance. Request that they outline estimated disbursements as part of your agreement.
- Also on disbursements, some lawyers will include these costs as part of the initial agreement. Request that they itemise them separately from the actual legal work so you understand all associated costs. No one wants to pay for a $100 courier if they can just catch a train and pick the documents up themselves!
I have heard of some horror stories where by people have accumulated very large legal fees by simple not doing the above tips when engaging a lawyer.
As a result, I thought it might be interesting to list ‘what not to do’ when dealing with a lawyer:
- Never leave important documents at home when meeting with your lawyer. Get everything done on the spot, first time.
- Don’t spend hours explaining your story. Be concise and to the point.
- Never request your lawyer to bend the rules.
- Never pay your legal fees late, be prompt with payments and request prompt service in return.
- Never hide truths that may hinder your case.
- Do not change your mind all the time. Get it right first time and agree on your path forward.
- Shop around after receiving advice from a lawyer and never take one answer as concrete.
What tips do you have for minimising legal fees?
Any legal professionals out there with some good ideas?