To avoid a surprisingly high legal bill it is in your best interest to inquire about your new lawyers billing practices before you start working with them. Some lawyers charge for each and every email and others only charge for the emails they used to work on your file. Knowing how your lawyer bills will help reduce any shocks when you receive your statement of account.
This is our list of other helpful tips to reduce your lawyer fees:
- Avoid sending multiple emails.
Avoid sending multiple emails with different topics. Whenever possible, send one email with all of your concerns. If you send multiple emails you may be charged multiple times for each email.
If your lawyer has requested a list of documents, whenever possible, send everything at once. If you are sending a new document each day, you may be charged for each day that an email was sent.
- Respond within a timely fashion.
If your lawyer asks for your instructions, do not delay in providing your response. Each time that your lawyer has to call you or email to follow-up you may be charged. If the other lawyer sends an email or calls for a response from your lawyer, you might be charged for this too.
- Provide your lawyer with sufficient materials.
Give your lawyer as much information as possible. If your lawyer needs more information from you may be charged for their email or call to you to ask for it. The lawyer might even charge you for your next call or email providing their requested information.
- Work with an independent paralegal.
Hire an independent paralegal to help you collect the information and documents your lawyer has requested from you. An independent paralegal is cheaper and can reduce the amount of time your lawyer needs to spend reviewing your file. An independent paralegal can prepare documents and can help reduce the of correspondence that you would otherwise need to be exchanged with your counsel. The paralegal rates are cheaper and would require less time for your lawyer to finalize your materials.
- Do the “leg work” on your file.
Reduce the amount of disbursements payable by taking a more active role in your file. Take advantage of opportunities to save money such as filing documents yourself instead of having your lawyer hire a court runner or courier; have a friend hand-deliver and serve documents instead of having your lawyer hire a process server; and, call third parties, such as potential counsellors directly instead of asking your lawyer to do it.
- Pick your battles wisely.
Reduce your legal fees by finding alternative person to vent to when parenting issues arise. Your lawyer and their legal staff do not provide counselling services and they are only able to provide you with assistance with legal issues. In many cases, it would be more cost effective for you to buy your child new clothing instead of paying a lawyer hundreds of dollars to write a letter about how the other parent is failing to adequately provide for the child. Immediate child safety concerns should be addressed with Child and Family Services (“CFS”) because they can act quicker (and cheaper) than court procedures and the Courts will likely want CFS’s position regarding the validity of your concerns.
- Be patient.
It can be tempting to call your lawyer for an update. Be cautious and avoid reaching out to your lawyer to often because you might be charged for each call or email. You can save money by being patient. Your lawyer will reach out to you when there is an update.
If you have any questions or concerns regarding your lawyers billing practices, reach out to your lawyer directly to discuss. If you are not satisfied with the outcome of the conversation, you can also bring your concerns to the Review & Assessment Office on the 2nd Floor, South Tower in the Edmonton Law Courts. The Review Officers may be able to intervene if they find you have been billed unreasonably. If you would like a referral to another lawyer with different billing practices, contact our team today to discuss your options.