How to Keep Legal Costs Down

Most business lawyers charge by the hour, so here are some ways to ensure a smaller bill.

Practicing law is about issue spotting.  Law school and bar exams tell the reader a story (John and Sally were in a hot air balloon when a tank exploded and John fell and broke his arm) and then ask them to identify all the claims and defenses that might be available to the parties.  Because this is how lawyers are trained, the most efficient way of communicating with your attorney is to identify the facts relevant to your particular issue first

Ways to save money

Start with Notes

Think out your issue or problem before meeting with your lawyer. Jot down some ideas on a piece of paper before your meeting. Many lawyers, especially contract lawyers, think in linear/chronological paths, so organizing your notes by dates or logical action items get you more efficient meetings.

Start with their Contract

In transactions with other businesses, ask for their usual contract agreement for your lawyer to review. This will prevent your lawyer from working from scratch, and provide your attorney a good baseline of understanding about how your kinds of transactions are structured. It also ensures that most of the customary terms are included.


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Identify your objective

Start out your conversation with your attorney with a clear statement of what you want done, then fill in the details. If you wait until the end before stating your objective, your lawyer won’t know what information was important and which was not. In that event, he or she will probably need you to repeat parts of your discussion to ensure they were correctly recorded.

Concise Q&A Keep Costs Down

Answer exactly the questions your lawyer asks during your meetings. If you are telling a story and your attorney asks you to pause and discuss one aspect in greater detail, then do so. Lawyers are trained to identify issues from conversations with clients, so if your attorney is asking you to talk about one particular thing, it is probably important. Answering questions directly also saves time.