In a lawyer’s world, our time is your money. Many lawyers charge according to time (as opposed to a fixed fee). This means, the more time we spend on your file, the more it costs you. At Collier Family Law, we know that money is tight and you want the best value for money. This is why we will suggest to you that you can do some of the legwork yourself – as this will reduce your lawyer fees. Here are some examples of what you can do:
Write out your story.
You might find it therapeutic! Let us know the history of your relationship. Do you have children and how old are they? Where do they live? What questions do you have? Do you have any concerns and fears? What would you like to achieve? This is very helpful when seeing a client for the first time because I can use our time together more effectively if I have some background.
If it is a property matter:
Get together all your financial records – bank statements, superannuation statements, and so on. What is of great assistance is to have a schedule setting out all of your major assets, what you think they might be worth. Who owns them, and what debts you have. This saves a lot of time normally spent asking you these questions at the first appointment.
Prepare and collate the financial documents.
Make two copies if you are delivering a hard copy. It is of great assistance to be given a bundle of documents that have already been separated into the various types, e.g. mortgage statements, bank statements (in date order), superannuation statements, payslips, with a schedule.
Keep asking me what you can do yourself.
I regularly have my clients fill in documents in draft for me to check over; or make their own enquiries where they can – for example, getting three quotes from a valuer. The more you can do, the less I need to, which reduces your fees.
Remember, your lawyer MUST give you a proper estimate of fees at the start of your engagement with them, and keep giving you further estimates throughout the life of your file. If this isn’t covered with you at the first appointment, ask why.
This story was written by Collier Family Law.