How YOU can make your legal experience more efficient and affordable: 8 ways to save on legal fees
Updated: Nov 20
Greetings and welcome to our website blog. Paolucci Law has now expanded to include immigration law, so these entries will include topics on both family and immigration law. Please note, these blogs are for information and do not constitute legal advice, but they may be helpful for readers to review for general understanding and assist with preparing questions for your meetings with counsel. On that note, I’d like to start our first blog off with:
Tips on how YOU can make your legal experience more efficient and affordable: 8 ways to save on legal fees.
Legal fees can add up quickly, however, there are ways to save on these expenses and reduce the amount of financial stress associated with retaining a lawyer. While some complex matters require more work than others, there are ways to reduce fees for all types of matters, which will assist both you and your legal representative.
1. Attend meetings with your lawyer prepared with the necessary documents at all stages of the process
If you are scheduling a consultation for a legal matter which has already commenced, or to change a prior agreement or court order, have the court order or agreement you would like changed, or court documents already filed in the process available in digital format, so that they can be emailed to the lawyer, during the consultation if not prior to.
Prior to attending follow up appointments be sure to collect all the documents needed to have a productive appointment. If you are unsure what these documents are, you can ask your lawyer. When your lawyer provides you a list of what is required, do your best to gather the necessary documents as soon as possible, to avoid follow up calls and emails and to avoid an unnecessary delay in the process.
If your matter is before the court, send documents requested by your lawyer as soon as possible after each meeting and ensure that these are always sent well before the filing deadlines for each court appearance, if your matter is in court. It is important to ensure your lawyer has all the necessary documents and facts to make the most of the court time and to properly advise or negotiate a settlement. Preventing your lawyer from being prepared will result in delay, affect your outcome and cost more money, including potential for costs against you in court, resulting in further expense.
Even if your matter is not before the court and you are negotiating a separation agreement or are going to mediation, be sure to take the first steps to request all disclosure agreed upon when advised to do so. Some documents, including, but not limited to, pension evaluations, older bank statements and house appraisals, may take some time to complete and starting that process as soon as possible avoids any further delay, follow ups and related expenses.
2. Be present and honest
You are at the center of each meeting and communication. It is important that you attend the meeting fully present and if virtual, without any distractions or avoidable background noise, which could cause disruption to the conversation.
In order to provide the best legal representation your lawyer needs to have all the facts. It is important that you answer each question honestly because the advice you are given will be based on this information and if the information you provide is not accurate, you shouldn’t rely on the legal advice that it pertains to. Not being honest or forthcoming with your lawyer will often result in wasted legal fees.. In addition to this, failing to be honest and provide your lawyer with the facts may result in unnecessary delays and presents a risk of having a costs award ordered against you. It is very important that you are upfront with your lawyer. Remember, conversations with a retained lawyer are client-solicitor privileged, this is to encourage candid discussions and disclosure so as to provide accurate legal advice, among other policy reasons.
3. Communicate efficiently
You may be tempted to call or e-mail your lawyer each time you have a question, concern or a life update. Keep in mind that these communications are invoiced. Try to collect your thoughts and communicate them to your lawyer in a single e-mail or phone call. It might be helpful to save a draft email and add questions to that email as they arise, or to take notes for your calls with counsel, so as to avoid a multitude of emails and communications.
When sending a lawyer documents/evidence, send what was requested and if you are sending a number of documents at one time, label these documents for ease of reference. Do not send your lawyer a number of letters, emails and texts that were not requested or discussed prior to. Remember, it takes time to read through each of these documents, and this time is billed. Advise your lawyer that they exist and if they could be relevant or helpful, your lawyer will ask to see them.
Avoid phone tag. These calls are docketed. If you need to speak with your lawyer, email them, request a time that works for both of you and provide times when you are available.
4. Have realistic expectations and be open to resolutions
Being understanding of the other party’s positions and recognizing reasonable solutions can help produce favourable outcomes for all parties involved and reduce unnecessary stress and time spent on your matter. Your lawyer can advise on the reasonableness of offers and the probability of court outcomes. It is important that you are open to consider options and not pursue unreasonable positions.
5. Be on Time
This is important for lawyer meetings and even more important for court. When you are late for court, you leave the judge and all others involved, including court staff and parties waiting. Time is money. Your lawyer will be invoicing for this time and if your matter is “stood down”/ another matter proceeds ahead of yours because you were late, your lawyer will invoice for the time spent waiting to be heard. This also frustrates your judge and everyone involved and starts you on the back foot. It is important that you plan ahead for court appearances. Plan what you are wearing and leave ample time to park. It can be difficult to find parking at the courthouse at times, plan for this.
6. Follow court orders
If there is a current court order in place, do not arbitrarily fail to meet your obligations under the order. The correct thing to do is to hire legal counsel to have that order changed, if the circumstances have changed. If there is an order for disclosure, prepare and exchange the disclosure within the timelines stipulated therein. Failing to abide by a court order can result in increased legal fees and potentially having costs awarded against you. This is especially true if it results in a contempt motion, where you may also be subject to a fine, in addition to the above.
7. Stay organized or become organized
Paolucci Law is a virtual practice. Every document you sign is automatically emailed to you. All orders, when received, and court documents and emails from opposing counsel, will also be forwarded to you. Keep these documents in a file on your computer for future reference. This will prevent you from emailing asking for additional copies, or requesting that your entire file be prepared and transferred upon completion, as there is an administrative fee for this that can be completely avoided.
8. Consider taking notes during meetings
This can assist you to avoid having to follow up with questions/emails over matters that have already been answered and or lists of items requested of you.