Almost everyone has a story about a terrifying legal bill and lawyers tend to receive a bad reputation for their legal fees. In many cases though expensive legal fees can be avoided.

When engaging a lawyer to represent you it is important to do your research, as you would normally do with any other service you engage in your everyday life. Many people don’t do their due diligence when engaging a lawyer and that can sometimes result in disappointment and in higher legal fees than is either necessary or anticipated.

Engaging a good lawyer is an investment in your future, especially when it comes to family law issues. That being said here are some tips on ways to save legal costs in your family law matter.

  1. Research your preferred firm(s)
    Not all firms are created equal and certainly not all charge in the same way. While most firms will not advertise their hourly rates many will include information on how they charge, whether they have free or fixed fee initial appointments and payment options.
  1. Make the most of your initial appointment
    On making an initial appointment, you will generally be provided with an information sheet to fill in and return before your initial appointment. This form is important and will allow your lawyer to prepare for your consult in advance. Such preparation will allow both you and your lawyer to have a more meaningful discussion about how to progress your matter from the outset. Many clients do not take the opportunity to fill out the information sheet in its entirety and accurately. This can result in the lawyer asking questions and correlating information in your initial appointment that could already have been provided at the outset.
  1. Read the client agreement and costs disclosure
    These will be provided at the commencement of your matter and outline what you are being charged and how those charges are incurred for the service that is being provided to you. Specifically, look at the hourly rates charged by your lawyer and other legal support team members. Also be aware that some firms charge for other administrative items like photocopying or typing. It is a legal requirement that you are provided with these at the outset of your matter so if you do not receive them ask your lawyer.
  1. Ask questions
    If you don’t understand the client agreement or it seems ambiguous or in legal speak then chances are it is. Ask your lawyer or one of their team to clarify how things work, especially if you feel that the costs vary from what you have been told to expect. Any discussion about your legal fees will be at no charge as required by law.
  1. Know about the various payment options available
    Most firms will operate on the basis that they require you to deposit monies into trust for anticipated costs and outlays as discussed at your initial appointment. Others will operate on a monthly invoice, payment plans or even one final invoice at the conclusion of your matter. It may be that smaller regular deposits to your lawyers’ trust account work for you, the options can be endless and you won’t know if you don’t ask. Ask about the options available with your lawyer and consider what is right for you as you would with any financial product.
  1. Take the time to consider the advice and ensure that you understand the information that is being provided to you
    If you would like for your solicitor to reduce their advice into writing to allow you to have more time to consider the advice it is important to let your solicitor know.
  1. Consider alternative means of communication
    Communication via email can reduce the expense of communications, especially as it is then readily available to refer back to if you need. Legal costs are reduced significantly if there are not repeated discussions with your solicitor in relation to the same advice or issues. Email also helps you to provide information to your solicitor when requested as quickly as possible.
  1. Engage with your lawyers’ skilled support team
    In the event that you have a query that is not necessarily a legal question then contact the skilled administration staff who will be able to assist you. In the event that they are unable to help they will be able to contact the solicitor with your query.

Chances are you never expected to need to engage a family lawyer and certainly didn’t anticipate an outlay for family law costs in your budget calculations, so finding yourself with a legal bill can be difficult. These tips will assist to reduce your legal fees although above all else they rely on choosing the right lawyer for you and your situation. You need to feel comfortable with the advice you are receiving and the person giving that advice in order to hand over your hard-earned money.

For further tips you can download our free guide Taking Control of Your Legal Costs here.