How to keep legal fees down
In today’s litigious environment it is easy for your legal fees to spiral out of control. Often, your legal fees are increased through matters which are largely out of your hands (for example delays from the otherside, allegations made by the otherside which need to be addressed or voluminous correspondence being sent). There are a number of steps which you are able to take to ensure that your legal fees remain in control. Those steps are set out below.
1. Keep on good terms with you Ex-partner
If you and your ex-partner are able to come to a resolution without the intervention of the Courts you will both likely be in a significantly better financial position (in terms of legal expenses). The further your matter progresses towards trial, the greater your legal expenses.
We recommend that negotiation followed by mediation where possible is the first step in any Family Law matter. If an agreement can be reached you will have saved a large quantity of legal fees and avoided the emotional stresses associated with protracted Court proceedings.
2. Listen to your Legal Adviser
You have retained a solicitor assumedly for their knowledge of the law and expertise in handling your matter. It is important that you are up front with your instructions and take the advice of your solicitor on board in relation to those instructions. If you do not understand the advice that your solicitor has provided you ensure that you clarify that advice as soon as possible. This will avoid the need to discuss matters repeatedly (and assist in reducing your legal fees).
3. Rely on others for emotional support
Family Law matters are extremely emotional. It is important that throughout the duration of your matter you have a support network of family, friends and therapists available to assist you in managing the emotional strain and stress.
You lawyer will no doubt empathise with your circumstances as they understand the difficult time that you are going through. However, you should avoid ‘venting’ to your lawyer as they are the most expensive friend you have. If you are contacting your lawyer repeatedly to vent, your fees are likely to suffer significantly.
4. Comply with requests promptly
Delays in complying with requests from your lawyer and/or the Court can lead to increased legal fees. It is important that you provide your solicitor with anything they have requested in a timely manner as this will avoid the expense of further/repeated requests.
This situation frequently arises in Family Law matters during the process of disclosure. It is important that you provide your solicitor with all documents that they have requested from you in a neat and legible order. If you only provide some of the documents or the documents are not organised, it will take further time for your solicitor to request missing documents and also sort the documents you have provided.
5. Prepare for telephone discussions/meetings
Preparing for telephone discussions/meeting with lawyers will give you clarity as to the matters to be discussed. It is important that you prepare a checklist of questions/matters which you want to discuss with your solicitor. This will ensure that all of your questions are addressed in a timely manner.
6. Discuss correspondence from the otherside
Sometimes in family law matters (particularly if one party is self-represented) parties can send regular or repeated correspondence about tedious matters in order to drive up their legal expenses.
If this situation arises in your matter you should discuss addressing the issue with your lawyer. They will then write to the otherside informing them that (once the issue has been addressed) you will not be responding to any further correspondence regarding that particular matter.
7. Do as much of the work as you can yourself
Ask your lawyer what work, if any you can do yourself. You don’t have to pay your lawyer to do all the work for your if you can’t afford it. Some lawyers will have an ‘unbundling exercise” available which allows you to pick and choose what work the lawyers will do.