Mostly everyone has to use a lawyer from time to time, whether you are a business owner, have income properties, or need a will. Going through a contentious legal dispute, especially one involving family issues or felony charges, can be both an emotionally and mentally taxing experience. If you are involved in a legal dispute of any kind, you need to properly prepare for the ensuing legal battle ahead of you. If you do not, the case can become an incredibly expensive undertaking. Wondering how to best save your money during a legal dispute? Choosing the right attorney for your case and being prepared for a legal dispute are the two most important actions you can take to reduce your legal bills.
A question often asked by potential law clients is, “How much does it cost for an attorney’s services?” The answer to this question varies. The fees that an attorney charges will depend on the following criteria: how much you have prepared, whether or not you are willing to work with your attorney, and how much work you want your attorney to do. Although, these legal fees can be rather costly. To help reduce them, take simple actions like choosing the right attorney, doing some of the legal work yourself, and understanding the types of legal fees.
Below are a few more tips on how you and your family can best save your money when working with a law attorney and lessen the amount of time it takes to resolve your case, which will result in less legal fees that you have to pay.
Choosing The Right Attorney
One of the best ways to save money is by choosing the right attorney, since a lawyer will know better than anyone how to best save your money during a legal dispute. Before you hire a lawyer, you should interview a few different legal representatives to determine which one is the best fit for your case. Deciding to change your legal representation in the middle of a legal dispute will only serve to run up your ligation expenses and slow down your case.
There are a few different options when it comes to choosing a lawyer or law firm. There are a few different types of attorneys, such as criminal defense attorneys, bankruptcy lawyers, personal injury lawyers, family law attorneys, or a health care attorney, which you will choose among based on your need. Choosing to hire a solo practitioner or an attorney from a small law firm will lower your total legal costs. The fees these legal representatives charge are often lower than the fees charged by lawyers from larger law firms. Doing your homework and making the right choice can save you hundreds to even thousands of dollars in legal fees. Once you develop a working relationship with an attorney, the more comfortable you will both feel working with each other and the smoother the process will go. Choosing the right lawyer is one of the best tips on how to best save your money during a legal dispute.
Arranging For A Flat Fee Agreement
There are a few different types of arrangements used by attorneys for legal fees, such as hourly rates, contingency fees, and flat-fee arrangements. If your case is fairly routine or simple, like an uncontested divorce or will, you should strongly consider arranging a flat fee agreement between you and your attorney. A flat fee agreement is a fee based on a predetermined amount of money, which will help you lower your legal fees overall. With a flat fee agreement, you will be fully aware of all legal expenses beforehand, allowing you to budget and plan accordingly with no surprises. This is another effective way how to best save your money during a legal dispute.
Limiting Phone Calls and Emails
Whenever your attorney responds to an email or takes a phone call on your behalf, you may end up paying for the time they spend, especially if you and your attorney have agreed to an hourly rate. If you provide your lawyer with all the necessary information upfront or at periodic intervals, you can drastically reduce your legal fees. Try to set meetings to have discussions with your lawyer and ask questions rather than sending frequent and unnecessary emails and phone messages. Be sure to ask your lawyer what their preferred method of communication is beforehand.
Consider the Alternatives to Hiring a Lawyer
You may be wondering how to best save your money without hiring an attorney. In reality, many legal disputes can be solved on your own or with the help of a paralegal, a notary public, or through self-representation in a small claims court. These disputes usually include disagreements over small sums of money or uncontested divorces between couples with no children or assets. Before spending thousands of dollars on legal fees unnecessarily, consider the alternatives to hiring an attorney, such as self-representation and mediation.
Doing Some of the Work Yourself
If you are looking into how to best save your money during a legal dispute, consider doing some of the work yourself. People often make the mistake of thinking that after they hire a lawyer, all their work in the matter is over. However, depending on the type of your case, you can save a lot of money on legal fees throughout your case by completing some of the work on your own. This includes prep work such as gathering and organizing all the necessary documents. Making support payment sheets, calendars, and charts are other tasks you can learn to do on your own to help reduce your legal bills. This way, you will not have to pay your lawyer to do them for you.
Ask your attorney beforehand what work you can do on your own to avoid duplicating their efforts or hindering their progress.
Preparing For Your Case
If you are wondering how to best save your money during a legal dispute, making the proper preparations is one of the most effective actions you can take. You can begin preparing by making a list of all your assets and liabilities. This may include all the assets and liabilities that you and your spouse may have accumulated before and during the marriage, any financial account numbers and balances, and an extensive description of all your other assets. If you begin preparing this information before your case begins, you can provide it to your attorney at the start of your case, which will save you money on future litigation expenses.
You should also let your attorney know if there will be any major changes in your occupation or financial situation throughout your case. If you inform your attorney of these potential changes, they may be able to postpone the discovery process until after these changes take effect. Letting your attorney in on this information will help you avoid having to pay to duplicate the disclosure process. It is also crucial to attend every one of your scheduled court dates. If your attorney has to file for a delay, it will cost you more in legal fees. Properly preparing for your case is a great tip on how to best save your money during a legal dispute.
Saving money during a legal dispute may be especially important for you if you need to pay a bondsman back. To post a bail bond, bail bondsmen generally require the defendant to pay ten percent of the bail amount and then secure the rest of the bail amount in the form of collateral.
Gathering and Organizing Documents
Gathering and organizing your legal documents is another step in preparation you can make yourself to help save you money during a legal dispute. Before the case begins, you should gather and organize any documents specified by your attorney. These documents will usually relate to a mandatory disclosure of financial records or a request to produce, if these apply to your case. While preparing, file all related documents together and ensure all requests have been completed. You could pay your attorney to do this work for you, or you could save money by doing these tasks yourself.
While gathering and organizing your documents, you should make a copy, or multiple if you prefer, of any and all important documents and give them to your attorney for their own records. When handing these documents over, ask them what sensitive information needs to be redacted. This includes account numbers or any other information that could end up costing you additional money. The fees for a courier or express mail can add up quickly over a short amount of time. Instead, you should deliver and pick up these documents to and from your lawyer’s office yourself to avoid these costly and unnecessary fees.
If you have decided to get a divorce, you and your spouse have probably left a long series of documents that you will need to recover. This includes:
- Bank statements, credit card statements, retirement account statements, and statements from brokerage accounts
- Loan documents, including all paperwork related to mortgages or a new car loan
- Federal and state tax returns for you and your spouse
- Pay stubs, W-2 forms and 1099 forms for you and your spouse
- Any health, car, homeowner’s, or life insurance policies
- Documents or paperwork related to your household budget
- Property leases
- Your marriage license
- Any contracts between you and your spouse related to marriage or divorce, including prenuptial agreements, separation agreements, and antenuptial agreements. Include agreements related to compensation for your children’s daycare, private education, or uninsured medical bills
- Your birth certificate, your passport, and your social security card, as well as your spouse’s, and your children’s
- Any previous divorce records related to prior marriages
- Employment contracts
- If you or your spouse owns a business, you should gather and organize any documents related to the business
- Partnership agreements and shareholder agreements
- The business’s tax returns at the local, state and federal level
- Business contracts and profit and loss statements
- Business balance sheets, minute books, and corporate records
- Business insurance policies
- Credit card statements and any other records related to business
According to legal experts, organization is another tip on how to best save your money during a legal dispute. Being organized is one of the most important aspects of the legal process, especially during the trial process or a federal criminal defense. Proper organization will help you ensure that all of your disclosure documents are in order, clearly labeled, and have been turned in on time. Making a table of contents will help you keep track of your documents and separate them into separate categories. Losing, misplacing, or having to refile a legal document will only serve to run up the cost of your legal bills. Another important aspect of organization is paying all your legal fees and bills on time. If you do, you will avoid any late or interest fees.
Making A List For Custody Issues
Another step you can take to help you save money during a divorce is preparing a detailed list for issues of child custody or time-sharing, if applicable. It will be most advantageous to you if you make this list in advance. This list should include all the reasons why you believe your children should primarily reside with you after the divorce. This will help your attorney focus primarily on more important issues during your custody litigation, which will save you money and valuable time.
Discussing Issues With Your Spouse
If you are on speaking terms with your spouse, you may be able to discuss certain legal matters between yourselves, make agreements, and then present those verbal agreements to your attorneys. These types of discussions can take place during a divorce counseling session. This will save you money on unnecessary ligation between your attorneys. Discussing issues with your spouse is an often overlooked tip on how to best save your money during a legal dispute.
A car accident is another common situation when hiring a lawyer can help save you money. In fact, three million people are injured in car accidents every year on roads in the United States. In addition, the average American driver is involved in three to four accidents in their lifetime. If you were injured in a car accident and another party is liable, you could be entitled to compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, or any pain and suffering you may have experienced as a result of the car accident. You are not required by law to consult an attorney after a car accident, but it is highly recommended if you hope to get the compensation you deserve. A personal injury attorney will have extensive knowledge of insurance claims, proving fault, and traffic accident law.
It is incredibly difficult for someone involved in a legal dispute to become a legal expert, which requires extensive experience and education. For this, you will need to hire an attorney who will know better than anyone how to best save your money during a legal dispute.