Legal advice is expensive: How to save money
Using the ONRECORD evidence gathering tool is a really effective way to save money on legal fees, as it keeps information structured and to-the-point, and in a format that is easy to use and refer to when it is needed during legal proceedings. At ONRECORD we believe passionately in people’s right to have access to justice, and that finances should not be a barrier to people having the ability to pursue a legal case.
However, we know that whether you are a small business or an individual, cash flow can be a huge problem and inevitably, an obstacle to taking legal action or pursuing a claim as far as you would want to. This should never be the case, so it is important people understand that there are ways you can manage legal proceedings to save money on avoidable fees and expenses.
You might think that this is your solicitor’s job, and it is, but you can reduce the time and resources required to handle your case by undertaking some of the legwork yourself. The ONRECORD evidence gathering tool is one example of how you can DIY your legal case to some extent, but there are other bits of documentation that you can keep yourself and have available at all times. Ask your legal team what they need and be prepared to provide it. A lot of legal costs come in simple administration, so there is no reason why you can’t do some of that. Photocopying and scanning documents, sending emails, organising files can all be done by you, so save your legal team some time where you can.
An important factor in legal costs is disbursements and what expenses you are required to pay. So you need to understand your legal firm’s policy on what they charge for. Some of this may be unnecessary or could be avoided. Some firms charge for documents to be printed out or photocopied, for example. Are four copies of a document really required or could you do it? If items such as these are not questioned, then you will be charged for them and a legal firm has no moral issues with that. But equally, if these costs are questioned, there are sometimes ways to save money. There are often unavoidable disbursement expenses such as government filing fees, courier fees or consultant fees, but if you ask for estimates upfront you can have approval over what you are charged for and what is acceptable. You may also find that some rates may be negotiable, but only if you raise the question.
Stick to legal talk
It is very easy to treat your solicitor as a social worker or therapist and to turn to them for help at the slightest opportunity, particularly as you are going through a challenging and stressful period of time and they are the best qualified person to give you advice. Whilst their legal guidance is vital to your case, you can get empathetic and compassionate support elsewhere, and much cheaper. It can be tempting to contact your solicitor for the slightest reason at such a worrying time, after all, they are the one person who truly understands the impact of what you are going through. But rather than ringing or emailing them every five minutes, store queries up and contact them once a week. You are billed for their time, so keep things brief and to the point.
If a solicitor does wish to give emotional advice, that can be extremely valuable, but this shouldn’t turn into a deep therapy session. You should keep the relationship strictly professional, certainly on the basis that, once your case is resolved, your solicitor won’t want to chat with you for free, and you may still need some emotional support. So choose your friends wisely at this time and set up a robust and accessible – and ideally free-of-charge – support network of reliable friends and family, and minimise the time you need to speak with your solicitor.