Lawyers are expensive. This may just be a fact of life. And like many other things, when it comes to legal advice, you get what you pay for. That’s why it’s important not to cut costs on lawyers, especially when dealing with complex issues. So while you shouldn’t go bankrupt paying for Clarence Darrow, before you look to save money remember that legal advice is important and bad advice can leave you in terrible situations – with bad contracts or a poorly defended court case, for example.
Understanding The Cost Of Legal Advice
Hiring a lawyer is expensive for several reasons. First, lawyers need to cover their costs and their very first cost is law school, followed by things like malpractice insurance and business overhead if they open their own practice.
But the cost of lawyers goes well beyond that. A good lawyer commits himself full time to the legal needs of his clients, checking email, making phone calls, and running off to hearings at a moment’s notice. When you pay for a lawyer, you pay for their time, all the time, not just when you’re meeting or in court. Life as a lawyer is structured around meeting client needs.
This is especially the case if you expect what the firm Cummings & Lockwood term “partner-level attention.” Partners in a law firm are generally the more experienced and skilled members of the firm and unlike public defenders or associates, they can take on fewer cases, offering greater attention to each of them. Public defenders on the other hand are so overworked, as law professor Alexa Van Brunt points out, that they can hardly be expected to do a proper job defending their clients.
Spending To Save
Of course, spending money on a lawyer is something you ultimately do not just to resolve an issue, but because financially they should be worth the investment for their services. You could try to write your will yourself, for example, but if your assets are complicated, you’ll want a lawyer’s help. That’s because, even if not for you, spending on a properly written will will protect your assets and your family in the future.
Similarly, there are many cases when you should engage a lawyer to help with contract issues, even if you think you understand the terms. Hiring a contractor to do work on your home? You could skim their terms and sign on the dotted line, or you could bring the document to a lawyer who can let you know if everything looks accurate and above board before you commit.
If you don’t get a lawyer to look things over, however, and things go wrong, you may not be protected because you missed a flaw in the contract – and that will cost you more than a quick contract review by a qualified lawyer. You’re spending money to save money.
Legal issues are stressful and budgeting for them can make them more so, but it’s important to look at the bottom line. If hiring a lawyer is going to protect you from future expenses and trouble, then it’s worthwhile to invest in one who knows their business inside and out.