Whenever I act for clients I am always careful to be cost conscious on their behalf. I have yet to meet a client who is not keen to ensure that their money is being spent effectively by their lawyer.
I thought it would be useful to put together some tips on the sort of things which might provide an indication of firms providing good value for money.
1 Many firms offer initial meetings free of charge. The generosity of time can be a good indicator as to ‘good value’. Is this first meeting limited as to 30 minutes or an hour - at JARVIS we have no such time limit.
2 Another good indicator at the outset of the matter is who a client might see at an initial meeting. You should expect to see the lawyer who will be handling your matter as the relationship between the two of you is very personal and you need to like and trust the person you instruct.
3 Is the lawyer generous with his/her advice at the free initial meeting? Many firms are coy about providing any advice at this stage and will use this meeting as a fact finding meeting only. If you do not get the answers to even your most basic of questions from this first meeting this may not be a firm who will be generous with their time at a later date.
4 Costs should always be discussed at the initial meeting. There are many aspects of costs involved in a family law matter. A lawyer should always explain the detail of the likely costs involved, when these are payable, and what a client can do to help limit their costs.
5 Ask about the experience of the lawyer who will handle your matter. An experienced lawyer will often complete a piece of work in one hour which may take a less experienced lawyer two hours. An inexperienced lawyer with a reduced hourly rate is not always the best ‘value for money’ approach.
6 Costs Policy – ask to see the firm’s Costs Policy – this should set out whether the firm charges matters such as ‘time spent travelling’ or ‘waiting at court’, do they charge for ‘postage’ or ‘photo-copying’? At JARVIS we make no charge for any of these types of matters.
7 The detail included on account is important – at my firm, JARVIS we provide full details of all work done. We know clients really like this as they can see the value for money we provide.
8 Fixed fee offers can seem attractive but they are rarely limited to a fixed figure if matters become more complex than expected. The real key to limiting costs is to find a firm you can trust to provide good value for money.
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