In this article, we’re going to be talking about a few simple things you can do to keep your legal fees in check, while maximizing the value your attorney delivers. This may seem like a counterproductive topic for us to discuss, so what’s in it for us?
We want our attorneys to be engaged with the work they’re doing – and many of the tips we’re about to give you will help ensure your attorney is working on stuff that matters, instead of admin. So you get a productive and efficient attorney, and we get increased productivity and higher quality work product from our attorneys, while also reducing attorney churn.
Without further ado, here are our 5 Tips for Keeping Your Legal Fees in Check:
Tip 1: Understand How Attorneys Bill You.
Attorneys don’t all charge the same way. Some are able to offer fixed fees, though this is usually reserved for legal matters that are fairly repetitive and predictable, like drafting very basic wills or common real estate transactions. Others offer value-based services, where the fee varies depending on how much money you receive/save as a result of their legal advice. But attorneys billing by the hour remains the norm. The billable hour model means your attorney will bill you in 6 minute blocks, based on the time spent tending to your matter.
Knowing this, it makes sense to make the most of those six minute blocks. Tip 4 is helpful here, so read on.
Tip 2: Use a Specialist Attorney With Experience in Your Industry.
You’ll often see attorneys who specialise in a certain practice area or industry, then there are generalist attorneys who have broad knowledge of many practice areas. Now, there are some very talented generalist attorneys out there, so I don’t want you to fear all generalists. But, broadly speaking, a specialist is going to be able to work more efficiently and with more direction on matters in their sphere.
Consider this situation:
You contact two attorneys hoping to have a cybersecurity handbook prepared for your staff to reduce your work-from-home risk. One of these attorneys is a generalist who charges $250 per hour, one is a specialist who charges $300 per hour. While the generalist is cheaper on an hourly basis, they may take longer to perform the work. They may have only drafted a few of these documents in their career, while the privacy specialist might do a handful every day! As a result, the privacy specialist may be able to provide comprehensive advice in less time than the generalist.
Tip 3: Organize Your Documents Before You Give Them To Your Attorney.
Your attorney is a very expensive administrator. It’s important that you organize your documents and bring all relevant documents with you to that first meeting. An organized set of documents means they are in a coherent order, preferably with an index that lists the document name and date. If you’re sending them electronically, organize the files. Make sure you name them in a way that makes them easy to search, and use folders if you have a high volume of documents.
Tip 4: Organize Your Thoughts, Too.
Any time you give your attorney instructions or ask them for advice, it could cost you money. If you’re a founder or business owner with a lean budget, it’s best to have a clear direction before asking your attorney to get to work.
Business is dynamic, so we know that things will change from time to time. But, bear in mind that your legal spend will be higher any time you tell your attorney to scrap one plan and change direction.
A few ways to give clear direction while reducing costs:
- Have just one point of contact at your company – so your attorney isn’t getting conflicting instructions from several people.
- Compile your questions in one long email and send it on a specific day of the week, this stops you from sending one liners that quickly increase costs.
- Read tip 5!
Tip 5: Use Your Attorney to Guide Decision Making.
We say this so often on our podcast, but fixing legal mistakes is so much more expensive than doing it right in the first place. While a clear direction is helpful, so is looping in your attorney before you take too many steps and require a long and expensive “clean up” process. What might take you hours or even days to wrap your head around, they’ve likely already seen. They can let you know about the risk and some relevant costs, thereby allowing you to give clear, informed instructions when it’s time to act.
An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of the cure, as the saying goes.
As always, we would love to hear what you think about these tips for keeping your legal fees in check. Do you have any money/time savers that you’ve used to reduce your legal spend? Are you planning to implement any of these? Let us know by leaving a comment on our social media post or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have any topics you’d like us to cover, let us know. We’re here to help.
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