No one ever anticipates getting caught up with legal matters, but unfortunately, it happens. Whether you’re dealing with a personal injury claim, landlord and tenant issue, or lawsuit brought on by creditors, there is probably nothing as financially draining as dealing with an issue that must be brought before the legal system. From the filing fees to attorney costs and other out of pocket expenses, if you don’t plan properly you could find yourself in the poor house before you ever see relief.
Don’t Risk Going it Alone
While there are instances in which self-representation might not be that big of a deal, often times it is not recommended. Unless you’re well-versed in law or believe you have clear evidence that will vindicate you, you could end up costing yourself more trying to go it alone. Not having the proper documentation, failure to understand the legal process, or simply doing a poor job of pleading your case could result in a win for the other party. Rather than trying to represent yourself, here are five ways to cut costs when working with an attorney.
1. Shop Around
As you would when purchasing a car, buying a home, or even choosing a doctor, you should not hire the first attorney you come across. Each firm will have their own set of fees and going rates for representing you, and the difference could save you a few hundred bucks (if not more). Believe it or not, there are even attorneys that work on contingency. For example, a car accident attorney may work with you to create a contingency clause in your contract, which would mean that they won’t make money unless you win your case.
As you’re looking for the best-going rate, it is also important to look at the overall quality of service of a particular attorney to ensure you’re investing in the right firm. It might be beneficial to consider scheduling a consultation with at least three firms to see who has the best service and rates to offer you.
2. Do What You Can on Your Own
To minimize the amount of time your attorney has to spend on doing small things on your case, you can complete some of those tasks for them. Whether this is filing your petition in court, gathering documents, or allocating information for witnesses, etc. The more you do for the attorney, the less they have to charge you for their services. Be sure to talk with your attorney to let them know what you’re going to accomplish so you’re not completing double work.
3. Educate Yourself
There are a plethora of self-help legal resources and agencies that you can reach out to in order to learn more about the legal process as it pertains to your case. The more you learn, the less the attorney has to explain to you as time goes by. This, in turn, saves time and money.
4. Limit Correspondence to Attorney
Every email opened or phone call answered in reference to your case is a “billable hour” for your attorney. To try and minimize the amount of time your attorney spends answering correspondence it is ideal for you to try and group all of your questions or concerns together. They can answer all of your questions at once and this saves them from the tedious process of reviewing emails or returning phone calls constantly.
5. Ask About a Payment Plan
If you find that the attorney fees are still more than your budget can handle, you can always talk about the possibility of going on a payment plan. This will typically require you to pay something upfront and then set up smaller monthly amounts until the balance is paid in full. A payment plan can also be a lot easier to work into your budget – even if you have to reevaluate some things.
When it comes to legal matters, you have to consider all financial aspects before making a final decision. While some assume that self-representation is the way to go, sometimes it can end up costing you more than you’d hoped for. Although the thought of hiring an attorney might scare you, many don’t realize that attorneys work on contingency plans and offer alternative payment options so that you can afford their services. Therefore, shop around and keep all of these tips in mind as you work with an attorney that is best skilled to help you win.