The 5 things you need to know to reduce your legal costs

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Whether you are instructing a family lawyer about your divorce, organising your estate planning and an intricate will, or have been in a motor vehicle accident, there are some simple things that you can do to reduce your legal costs.

1 Read Your Costs Agreement

Often referred to by lawyers as your ‘terms of engagement’ or ‘cost retainer’, this agreement explains the relationship you have with your lawyer and how you are going to be charged.  It is important to understand this (and to get your lawyer to explain it to you if you don’t), because it is a blueprint for the future and will contain some estimations of the fees that will be charged by your lawyer.

2 Confide in your Lawyer

You will usually get a better outcome and at a lower cost if you are able to tell your lawyer all the facts you know at the beginning of a matter.  Don't try to do the lawyers job for them by providing only the part of the story that you believe is relevant.  Listen to your lawyer and provide as much detail as you can. Your lawyer will sort the wheat from the chaff. If you hide something from your lawyer it will only be to your detriment and in the end and could ruin any chance of success.

3 Provide all Documents

In most matters you will be asked to provide some documents, sign and return authorities and the terms of engagement.  Do this thoroughly at the beginning of a matter as it will keep your matter moving.  Momentum is important.

4 Use Email

Carefully use your email to contact your lawyer.  By writing out your instructions or a response you will naturally clarify your instructions or response.  Read the email before sending it.  Leave it for a couple of hours and come back to it and check that it provides the instructions and detail your lawyer is after.  If you have a document which 'backs up your story' attach it to the email.

An email will cost less for your lawyer to read than a phone call and generally is more informative.  You can also keep a copy of it.

5 Be Careful of your Expectations

Lawyers have many files at one time.  It is sometimes difficult for them to get the 'quiet time' they need to properly consider the legal issues to deal with your matter.  This can cause delay.  If you expect your lawyer to respond to you within a day and you contact them like you would call or sms a friend, then your costs are most probably going to go up.  Use your email to follow up with them.


If you use the steps above you will better positioned to get a better outcome at a lower cost.

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Sebastian was admitted to the Bar in 2006, and has been practising at Boylan Lawyers since 2007. He became a partner with Paul in February 2012. In this short time, Sebastian has been an passionate contributor to the law, particularly in South Australia. He is a member of the Council of the Law Society of South Australia, a Committee member of Law Society Country Lawyers Committee, a Committee member of the Law Society Family Law Committee, a member of the Mandatory Continuing Professional Development Committee which overseas that lawyers keep their knowledge and skills up to date. Sebastian is also board member of the Westside Community Lawyers Board. Sebastian currently practises in many areas of law, and can help you with estate claims, family law including children, divorce and property settlement.
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