One of the major frustrations for clients of law firms is the uncertainty surrounding how much they will end up spending on a matter. This is just as true for large corporate clients as it is for individuals.
Believe it or not, it is a frustration for us as well!
Whilst it is possible to determine with accuracy the cost involved in some of the work we do (for example, the drafting of wills and sale of business agreements), even that work can go in unexpected directions.
Business and family life is complex and ever-changing, so it is no surprise that a “one size fits all” approach to legal issues just doesn’t work.
Having said that, there are some things that lawyers and their clients can do to manage the uncertainties:
Have a clear goal: whether it is a will that fully expresses your carefully thought out intentions for your estate, or a settlement of a commercial dispute that allows you to get on with business, have a clear set of goals in mind before your first conference with a lawyer. Your lawyer should then be able to explain the processes involved in getting you there. If your goals are not achievable, she or he should be able to advise on the range of outcomes available to you.
Ask!!! There are no silly questions. If you do not understand the process and what you will be asked to do as part of that process, it may be because it hasn’t been explained well. Keep asking until you feel comfortable that you understand. At the same time, be prepared to have your lawyer ask plenty of questions of you. It is important that they are under no doubts as to what you want out of the process, whether that goal can be achieved, and whether there might be options available to you that will save you time and money.
Remember that most legal matters are not static: Most of the work we do involves some form of negotiation with other parties, and how the work progresses is influences by factors outside our (and your) control. While you should expect your lawyer to keep you appraised of any major changes to the scope of the work as a matter progresses, we can’t be expected to respond to a particular concern you have if you don’t express it. There is never a bad time to ask your lawyer: “what is the estimate of my legal fees?”
At Matthews Folbigg Lawyers we understand that our responsibility to you doesn’t end once you sign us up. We aim to create a relationship with you where you are comfortable to ask the tough questions, and that you understand our role in achieving your goals.
If you would like to learn more about our approach to your costs, contact any of our Principals today.