Can I Afford a Lawyer?
Most potential clients who come into Lonzo Law will at some point say, “I never thought I could afford a lawyer.” With the average cost of lawyers ranging up to $500 an hour, and even more in certain cities and specialities, it’s no wonder that the average business client is concerned about a affordability of legal services. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have access to legal counsel.
Why are lawyers so expensive?
The unfortunate reality of being a lawyer is that it costs a lot of money to be in business. Office operations aside, the costs related to staff and legal resources as well as litigation costs such as paying for experts and court reporters, can really add up. However, here are a few tips to help you find affordable access to legal counsel.
Top Tips to Afford a Lawyer for Your Small Business
Negotiate discounts for guaranteed minimum hours.
This is a trick that we learned from the insurance companies who hire firms to represent their insured as defense counsel. These companies negotiate the lowest rates in exchange for being one of the limited firms who could get their cases in a specific region. This tactic drives the average hourly rate down hundreds of dollars for those clients. You won’t have quite the negotiating power that a major insurance company has, but if you know you will have a set amount of hours for a year, it may be worth attempting to negotiate a discounted rate with your attorney.
To keep it simple, at Lonzo Law, we’ve done the negotiating for you! If you have the need for an average of two legal hours a month for your small business, we provide a $110 discount per hour via our annual legal membership plans through The SGB Network.
Determine if you need legal work or legal consulting.
We recently wrote about the differences between legal consultation and legal services. If you are just looking for advice and guidance, a legal consultant may be what you need. This is a newer concept within the industry, so you might not always be able to get a better rate for this versus actual legal work. However, when you can find firms offering legal consultation services, they can cost much less than the cost of legal work.
Ask if your situation would be appropriate for contingency fee.
When allowed by the laws of your state, and when the circumstances are appropriate, some attorneys may be willing to take your case on a contingency basis. This means, if, and how much, they get paid is “contingent” on how much you win in a lawsuit. It will cost more in the long run, as the average contingency fee runs from 30%-40% of your total settlement or judgement. But if you need a litigator and are low on funds, this is a great way to ensure you get counsel at no upfront cost. This is extremely common approach for plaintiff’s attorneys in personal injury litigation, but may also be available in some other instances of other litigation as well. If you are strapped for cash, it never hurts to ask.
Take advantage of your free consultation.
The last piece of advice is to always schedule an appointment to speak to an attorney. Often, you will find that attorneys are more than happy to speak with you about your circumstances in a free consultation. Think of this an opportunity to ask all the legal questions you may have. Worst case scenario, you can get some guidance and ideas from the attorney about approaches that they might take and their thoughts on the potential outcomes of your situation. A word of warning, unless you are utilizing a consultation approach, you will likely only get one of these, so make it count. Also, be sure to clarify that the consultation is free before you attend, as many specialty lawyers have started to catch-on to this approach and need to ensure they don’t spend all of their time giving away their knowledge.
Find an approach that works for you and always invest in counsel when you can.
No matter what your budget is, there is a type of legal payment structure that will help you to afford a lawyer. Whatever you do, do not try to find a way to “DIY” your legal needs. Whether it’s on a consultative basis or a one-off hour of time to get something done, we can promise you that being proactive with your legal needs versus attempting to do it yourself will save you thousands in the long run. At Lonzo Law, we offer a variety of approaches to ensure that business owners have affordable access to good legal counsel.
If you are interested in leaning more about our different approaches and which plan is best for you, complete our form to provide us with some information and get a meeting on the books.