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Three Ways to Save Money on Legal Fees

There are three ways to save money on legal fees. Not two, not four, but three. Do you want to know what they are? First, a baseball story.

I hated baseball for years. I played Little League one season when I was about eight years old, and I hated baseball ever since. Then, I had a son. He, for some odd reason, loved baseball (and football, and every other sport). And I still hated baseball. Oh, I was faithful to take him to every practice and attend every game (from the age of four, may I interject) but I did not like the game. Mostly because all I knew about it was some guy had to hit a ball and then everyone ran around looking for the ball.

Then, after years of this, I was asked by his league to umpire some games. “Sure,” I said. After advising them that my son played on the teams (they didn’t care because it was a fairly informal league and I was the one guy who showed up to every practice and game) I said that I didn’t know how to umpire because I did not know the rules. No worries. They had a rule book.

I am a lawyer, so I devoured the rule book. Then, because I am a nerd, I re-read the rule book. And re-re-read it. Somewhere in between the infield fly rule and the “don’t try to evade the tag by running into the infield” rule, I wound up liking baseball. After all those years, the random people running around the field made sense. The game made sense.

What is the tie-in to legal services?

Many people utilize legal services, but because they don’t understand the rules, they just don’t like playing the game. (Also, I just love telling the story because it involves a thirty-plus year hatred for a game that I love today.)

So, here are the rules for saving money on legal fees:

Rule Number One: Use Less
This one is the easiest and the hardest to do. It is easy. When you get sued, just ignore it. Like the outfielder who never runs for the fly ball, just hoping it will go foul, you can sit there hoping things will go away. (Like that baseball tie-in?) Unfortunately, if you play the game this way long enough, you will lose. You really can’t just “use less” lawyers, because we are not the type of service you choose to use.

Rule Number Two: Use “Cheap”
There are cheap lawyers or discounted lawyers. There are mid-tier lawyers. There are lawyers who will accept the pressure to reduce their fees. There are lawyers who woo their way into your panel of lawyers with an introductory rate. I will not challenge the business model of these lawyers, except to say this: unless they can reduce the rate they pay their employees, they cannot continue to perform the same quality service. It is simply impossible. They have to be shaving somewhere. Since lawyer salaries are the single biggest expense of the law firm, where are they saving, do you think? Since lawyer salaries are tied to a billable hour model, what does that mean? Picture a relief pitcher with an injured arm, who the Red Sox picked up at a fire sale. I think you get the picture.

Rule Number Three: Use Fixed Fees
If you have legal issues and you are able to find a lawyer who understands fixed fees, you will be able to save money. How is this possible? Because the lawyer who builds his business around a fixed-fee model, must be willing, ready and able to create a fee structure which takes that into consideration. Or he goes out of business. A fee structure which takes into consideration his client’s needs, leads to other innovations in the business and will result in systems which foster efficiency while still achieving client objectives.

There you have it. The Rules. They make playing the game a little more… ok, I was going to say fun. I get it, hiring lawyers is not really, ever going to be fun. Call me anyhow to discuss how hiring lawyers can be a little less un-fun than before.