Ways to trim legal expenses
Lawyers have a way of passing on every expense they can think of to their clients, but business people, with their level of acumen and expertise can often point out to their legal counsel how to reduce legal fees.
Of course legal fees are an integral part of the cost of doing business but many small firms do not have the expertise that it takes to deal with lawyers and as a result can end up paying more than they should for representation. It could be that you have been using the same law firm for years and you are becoming unsettled with the ever increasing size of the bills or perhaps you are just starting out in business and you are looking for your first lawyer. Regardless of the situation there are ways to reduce legal fees and save hundreds, perhaps even thousands of dollars in fees without compromising the quality of the legal services that you get.
Here are a few ideas that can help you control your company’s legal expenses:
Discuss fees: Do not hesitate to bring up the issue of fees, many lawyers will not. When discussing fees; remember that lawyers are in business as well and must be cognizant of revenue and profit. The best time to discuss and agree fees is right at the beginning of a legal matter.
Agree the fee structure: There are three ways that the lawyer can charge for his or her services:
Hourly: The hourly rate depends on the skill of the lawyer and the jurisdiction in which the lawyer resides.
Flat fee: A lawyer can quote a flat fee for services, the amount varies of course depending upon the task but once agreed, the fee cannot be adjusted either up or down.
Contingency: This is a system of fees where the lawyer agrees to take a percentage of the award as a fee. This arrangement is often used in personal injury cases, if there is no award or out of court settlement there are no legal fees.
Try to settle rather than litigate: Don’t try to fight for the last dime as a matter of principle. It is better to compromise rather than purse the case all the way through court.
Insist on an itemized billing statement every month: You are entitled to a true and accurate accounting of what services were provided and what expenses the lawyer as incurred. If something appears amiss do not hesitate to bring it to the attorney’s attention.
There are many ways to reduce legal fees but once you have settled on a lawyer stick with him or her. A lawyer who is familiar with you and your company is much more likely to cost less and be more effective.