Legal bills can be expensive. Here’s what you can do to help reduce potential costs when you need a lawyer:
Making the most of your lawyer
1. Don’t wait too long to hire a lawyer, or the problems might get a lot more difficult (and expensive) to solve later on.
2. If you’re not sure if you need a lawyer, pay for a one-hour consultation, get the advice and information you need, and then decide. Get “unbundled” services or legal coaching.
3. Prepare for your meetings with the lawyer in advance, to make the most of the time for which you are paying. Make a list of questions, and clarify what your goals are.
4. Ask about cost and get specific- what does it cost? How much do they charge per hour, what is the estimated cost overall, what is included in the cost, and do they offer a flat rate or payment plan?
5. Get organized. Locate and organize all relevant information yourself (e.g. financial material, tax returns, bank records, budget information, copies of past orders) before you bring it to your lawyer.
6. Don’t call or email your lawyer every time your ex-partner makes you angry. Just give the lawyer the facts. Otherwise, it will run up your legal bill.
7. Don’t send threads of emails or copies of texts to your lawyer, unless they ask for them. Instead, provide them with a summary of what has taken place and tell them what evidence (texts, emails etc.) you have.
8. Get emotional support from a Divorce Coach or Counsellor instead of your lawyer. They charge about one third to one half of a lawyer’s hourly fee. Save the lawyer’s time for legal issues, and this will dramatically reduce your legal bill.
9. Consider having the Paralegal or Legal Assistant at the firm do some work on your file. They charge less per hour and can be just as competent with Financial Statements and other paperwork, particularly when they work together with a lawyer.
10. Review your legal bill. If you have concerns, bring it to your lawyer’s attention immediately.
Michael Butterfield notes, “a bit of forward planning can save thousands of dollars and reduce conflict overall”.
Jayne holds a Masters in Psychology and is currently Butterfield Law’s Legal Assistant and Mediation Coordinator.
Areas of Practice: Family law including separation, divorce, mediation, arbitration, child & spousal support, support variations, guardianship, parenting time, access, property division and more. Victoria BC