Client guide to reducing legal costs

Dundas Lawyers provides a guide to our clients to assist them to reduce their legal fees, so that we can focus on adding value and providing the best solution possible. 

Why assist clients to reduce their legal fees – are you mad?

It’s common for clients of law firms to complain about fees.   Why is this the case?  In most law firms the amount of time spent on a matter is directly correlated to the cost.  The cost is generally  indicative of quality right?   Wrong!  Time is money and clients are generally billed in six (6) minute increments (1/10 of an hour).
Dundas Lawyers provides this guide to our clients to assist our clients to reduce their legal fees, so that we can focus on adding value and providing the best legal advice possible.  The reason for this is simple, we have a commitment to long term relationships with our clients, if we assist them as best we can, they assist us.

Top 11 Tips for minimising legal fees

Based on our experience, we have summarised the top eleven (11) things that can be done to reduce a client’s legal bill.

Tip 1 – Consult a Lawyer early

All too often people consult a Lawyer too late or after they have attempted to do it themselves.  In both cases, the cost is likely to be greater than if they had either consulted a Lawyer at the start of the commercial transaction or at the first sign of trouble.

Tip 2 – Communicate all relevant facts at the outset

When instructing us in relation to a matter, provide a concise summary of all the facts.  This is often best done by providing us with a written document that includes relevant background material facts of the problem.

Tip 3 – State what level of service you want

Best practice law can be costly.  Similarly, so can lack of rigor!  It’s important that you understand whether you are receiving a five star service when you only need a three star one, and that extra cost may mean reduction of risk.  Dundas Lawyers is of the view that the level of service should be dependent on the situation and should change depending on the matter and the likely consequences.  This should be our client’s decision, not ours.

Tip 4 – Clearly define the outcome you want

Depending on the nature of the matter, you may want to specify your desired outcome.  It’s likely that your desired outcome can be achieved in numerous ways.  Your Lawyer needs to advise on the cost associated with achieving the various outcomes and the likelihood of achievement.

Tip 5 – Consider the options and develop a strategy

In most corporate transactions and litigious matters, the end result can be achieved in numerous ways.  This necessarily involves the evaluation of several different legal options and the development of a strategy to achieve the desired outcome.
It is imperative that before deciding on a strategy to achieve the desired outcome, that you assess all the options and decide on the best way of achieving them.  Make sure that you don’t miss disclosing any relevant facts to your Lawyer – surprises can be very costly!

Tip 6 – Stick to the strategy – if possible

Common “fee blow outs” occur when clients change their mind about the way in which the outcome is to be achieved.  This commonly occurs because of:

  • a change in circumstances in relation to the parties;
  • the Lawyer discovers new information that has not been previously disclosed;
  • the client changes their mind about the best way to achieve the outcome.

As with all project management, if the strategy or goals change, then it’s likely to impact heavily on the cost.  Clients should fully evaluate the strategy to achieve the outcome before taking action and incurring legal costs.

Tip 7 – Avoid scope creep

Like building contracts if you keep adding new features to a building that are not included in the original contract, then the costs must rise.  Make sure that your estimate of legal costs includes all the items that you are likely to require.  Changes in scope will mean increases in costs.

Tip 8 – Make further information easily accessible

It’s common for clients to simply hand over the problem and ask the Lawyer to fix it.  Whilst this is what Lawyers are for, bear in mind that if we have to chase information such as proposed directors dates of birth, address details, then it’s likely that you will be incurring unnecessary costs.

Tip 9 – Be succinct in all communications

Whilst rapport is important, a lengthy conversation about current affairs could be costing you money.  If talking casually, ask whether you are being billed for the time spent on the phone.  Dundas Lawyers makes an investment in getting to know you and your business and as such, may or may not be charging you for conversations relating to the general affairs of your business.   See our Time Billing Policy for further information in this area.

Tip 10 – File original copies of documents securely

Lawyers and their assistants spend many hours collating and filing copies and originally executed documents.  To save time, make sure you keep (or instruct us to keep) a repository of original documents that can easily be accessed at a later time.

Tip 11 – Limit the number of parties instructing the Lawyer

Extra time is often spent on commercial transactions where multiple company officers communicate information to their Lawyer or multiple Lawyers.  Make instructions clear and concise and attempt to ensure that the Lawyer does not have to chase information or get approvals from multiple people.

If you would like further information about how you can reduce your legal costs, please contact:

Malcolm Burrows B.Bus.,MBA.,LL.B.,LL.M.,MQLS.
Legal Practice Director
Telephone: (07) 3221 0013
Facsimile: (07) 3221 0031
Mobile 0419 726 535


This article is general in nature and cannot be regarded as legal advice.  It is general commentary only. You should not rely on the contents of this article without consulting one of our lawyers. If you would like advice regarding how the law applies to your individual circumstances, then please contact one of our legal practitioners.




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