Keeping Costs Down
Using a lawyer can be expensive. We try to keep our charges down, but they can still be prohibitive. Here are a few suggestions as to how you might keep your bill to a minimum.
- Read the information about the way we calculate our costs. It is a brutal but relatively fair system. If we spend time on your case, we charge you for that time.
- Do answer our letters, and call us if we ask you to. We charge for each letter or telephone call chasing you,
- If we ask you for money on account of costs, please make sure it gets to us. If you do not meet a request for a sum on account, we cannot continue our work for you.
- It is always nice to see you, and often necessary, but many times we can answer your query by e-mail, telephone, or by letter. This will normally cost less.
- If you make an appointment, keep it, or cancel. We are often able to work around missed appointments, but sometimes we have to cancel another appointment to meet with you. We will sometimes charge for missed appointments.
- Be realistic about what can be achieved. We do often achieve more success than might be expected, but much of what we do, in reality, depends upon chance. We will make as much luck for you as we can, but we do not promise the earth. A sensible compromise will often allow both sides of a dispute to 'move on',to get back their lives.
- Please check whether you have any legal expenses insurance. Ask us if Legal Assistance (formerly Legal Aid) might be available in your case. Please note that Legal Aid is now available in only a restricted set of circumstances.
- We deal with many people by e-mail. This has clear advantages, but for so long as we need to send and receive letters with real signatures, such methods can add additional costs. Similarly, we are content to send copy letters by fax. In either case, it never seems to work out quite so simple, and we have to charge for such additional copies usually.
- If we feel you should know about progress, we will tell you. If you think there is something we should know, then make sure that you tell us. On the other hand if you ring every day to ask how your matter is progressing, you will be charged accordingly.
- We use law-bytes, such as this, to provide standard and common sense advice on many points. We use these so that we do not have to repeat that advice in as great detail when talking or writing to you. If you receive a law-byte, please read it carefully. When you visit our offices, please read through our collection of law-bytes, and take copies any which interest you. You can also see many of them at our web-site at http://www.swarb.co.uk/
- It is important that you understand what we do for you. This can mean that we spend more time in explanation than do other solicitors. If we are explaining something you feel you understand, tell us, firmly but gently.
- We often ask clients to prepare statements. Taking statements is time-consuming, and we will still, and always, need to go through it with you. The more you do for yourself the less we have to charge.
- Sometimes work is needed on a file which you may be able to do equally as well as we can (or better). We are content to try to agree a division of labour with you, though there sometimes there are particular reasons why the work is better be done by us.
- Be as clear and consistent as you can in your instructions, and try to think things through before you come to see us. Sadly, emotions are a poor guide to action in law. Take time to work things through. Sometimes clients set out in one direction, only to change directions later. Much work may have been wasted.
- If we have to chase you for something repeatedly, the cost of doing so is added to your bill. If we ask you for some piece of information, or decision, or whatever, and you have any difficulty providing it, come back to us straight away.
- We try to be sympathetic to clients. It is sometimes necessary to work through an emotional upset before we can together see things clearly enough to provide an answer. We are willing to do this, but, please, understand that we are not counsellors, and that we are an expensive and poor alternative to such. We can recommend you to a counsellor if you wish.
- Often the problems people bring us are real, but are not genuinely problems of law. We try to provide an answer to any question people bring to us, but sometimes economic forces mean that we are unable to give the help we would wish.
- We give a budget for your costs at the outset, but matters can be quite unpredictable. If you are concerned that this may be exceeded, do ask. It is better to do so than to sit and worry about how much the bill is. It is often much better to ask for an interim bill - which we may send to you from time to time in any event.