It is common for people to call my office in a panic. They have a legal issue and they need to hire an expert. After ensuring that I am familiar with their legal issue, I then inform the caller of my hourly rate and give them an estimated total cost for my legal services.
Often enough, the caller then becomes more concerned with estimated legal fees than with their actual legal issue and think that they can save money by "doing it themselves"
It is these types of clients to which this article is directed. Believe it or not, it is often much cheaper to hire a lawyer than to try to do it yourself
Here are the top 4 reasons Why It's Cheaper to Hire a Lawyer:
Lawyers draft legal documents much more effectively than non-lawyer.
Often when faced with legal issues, people seek out free resources. There are all kinds of do it yourself websites and resources available to help people fill out court forms and affidavits, and to help people with court procedures. Some of these procedures and forms appear to be straight forward enough. I assure you that they are not.
Lawyers go through a full year apprenticeship after law school called 'Articles' where they learn the ins and outs of these forms and procedures from senior lawyers with years of experience. Lawyers learn what to include, and what not to include. Even after getting called to the bar, lawyers must continue their legal training by obtaining Continuing Professional Development Credits on an annual basis. On top of that, lawyers are continuously monitoring changes in the law and court procedures related to court forms and affidavits. This allows lawyers to draft court forms and affidavits more effectively and efficiently than non-lawyers.
In short, there is a lot more to court procedures, court forms and affidavits than one might think, and it is worth it to hiring a lawyer to deal with them.
Lawyers know how to draft court forms in ways accepted by the court registry.
A judge won't hear a case unless all proper court registry documents are filed first. Most people have never been to a court registry to file court documents. Non-lawyers who try to file their own court forms will quickly realize that court registries demand perfection.
Getting court forms filed with the court is an art. Although registry staff do their best to direct non-lawyers where to obtain required court forms and how to fill them out, after several trips back and forth to the registry attempting to file court forms, people often become frustrated and seek a lawyer's assistance.
What if I hire a lawyer only to help me fill out my forms?
After hearing about my legal fees, clients often suggest that they pay me to 'help them run their own case.' These clients understand that they need help filling out their court forms and need help getting them filed at the registry. However, they think that it would be cheaper for me to help them fill out their forms as opposed to taking over conduct of their case.
Navigating the court system effectively is an art form that requires legal knowledge, procedural knowledge, and experience. In order to best help a client with their case, the client must retain a lawyer to navigate the court system for them.
In cases when clients do not hire a lawyer to navigate the court system what ends up happening is that a client hires a lawyer to draft a court form for them. The client files it, but doesn't know what to do next. The procedures involved after filing are beyond the scope of this article. What I will say however is that there is often a hefty filing fee each time a client files a court form. If a client files a court form and doesn't do what is required after filing, then the client has to pay to file again (and must update the form accordingly before doing so).
Again, these are issues that could be avoided by hiring a lawyer to get the job done right the first time.
Should I try to fill out the forms myself before seeking a lawyer's help?
Often people try to fill out their own forms before coming to a lawyer for help. Often these same clients only want the lawyer to help them fill out the parts of the forms that they are having difficulty filling out themselves.
In my practice, what often happens is that a client has actually filled out the wrong forms and in some cases; the client isn't even using the quickest/cheapest procedure to get what they need.
These common pitfalls are generally very obvious to most lawyers but understandably not so obvious to most non-lawyers.In short, to save yourself time, frustration and money, hire a lawyer right from the start