If we all know one thing in life it’s this: hiring a lawyer is expensive. When you need the help of a legal professional to either defend yourself against allegations, prosecute against someone else, or just to ensure you have a watertight contract, you know it’s going to be costly.
However, there are a few things you can do to reduce your fees if you are prepared to be a little more active. Here are some ideas to help you slash the costs of hiring a lawyer, and negotiate better deals.
While we wouldn’t advise representing yourself in anything other than a simple, open and shut case - which is a very rare occurrence indeed - it’s still possible to do. If you are confident of getting the best result possible when you go up against an experienced lawyer - or possibly a team - then bear in mind that the costs will be stacked against you. And even if you do decide to take this route, it’s worth having a consultation with a lawyer, first. Some may even suggest it will be financially more viable for you to go it alone.
Consider what you have to offer
While you need your attorney’s experience and knowledge at this critical time, there’s a chance that they might need you, too. If your case is interesting or challenging enough to improve their career, there’s a risk that you can negotiate reduced fees. This particular tactic tends to work better with young, up-and-coming lawyers, although your case will need to benefit them if you want a chance of lower legal costs.
Collect your own evidence
Let’s assume you get hurt in an auto accident. If you are able and sharp enough to collect a lot of proof from the scene - take photos, for example, or ask for details of witnesses - then you will be doing some of the work for your personal injury attorney. Create a file and arrange it in order, making sure that you give it to your lawyer in a timely fashion. Ultimately, the more time your lawyer has to spend working on your case and extracting vital information such as evidence and medical bill records, the more you will end up paying.
Check fee structure
Some lawyers offer flat fees for cases, while others will charge you for the time they work. However, even then there are disparities. Some attorneys charge for a half hour for a one or two-minute phone call, while others might round up to the nearest tenth of an hour. Obviously, choosing a lawyer that bills you for the exact amount of time they work for you is going to cost less than one who charges you at a high proportion of their hourly rates.
Do you have anything you can do for your attorney’s office that you could exchange for their services? Perhaps you are a website building whizz that could refresh their online presence? Maybe you could redecorate their offices, or barter some other skill you have in exchange for a reduced fee? It’s old-fashioned bartering we are talking about here, and although it won’t work for every firm, some smaller, independents might be up for it - but you won’t know if you don’t ask!