The 6 Best Ways to Save Money on Legal Fees Without Hiring a Cheap Lawyer

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Updated on February 22nd, 2022


Whether you are going through a divorce, an injury claim, or a business settlement, hiring a lawyer can be expensive. 


However, having a good lawyer is worth the investment! The money you spend on the right lawyer can easily save you thousands of dollars down the line when you get the result you’re looking for. 


Whether you’re drafting a will, trying to defend a DUI (Driving Under the Influence), finding an immigration lawyer or anything in between – the last thing you want to do is cut corners on your legal representation. Ask anyone who has tried to take the cheap route and they’ll tell you that nothing is more expensive than a cheap lawyer.


Even when hiring the best lawyers, we have some tips and tricks that could save you thousands in legal fees! If you know how the system works, you can save on legal fees without compromising on the quality of your legal representation.

The number one thing to keep in mind is that time is money. How much you spend on a lawyer is calculated as their hourly rate multiplied by how much time they spend on your file.


You have more control over how much time your lawyer spends on the file than you do on their hourly rate. Many of these money saving tips will help you avoid legal fees by cutting down the hours your lawyer will spend on your case.

To make the most of your time with a lawyer, here are the 6 best ways to save money on legal fees:


1.     Find the right lawyer

2.     Be a good communicator

3.     Work the system

4.     Do some dirty work

5.     Lean into support

6.     Avoid going to court


Let me break down each of these in more detail for you: 


1.     Find the right lawyer


First and most importantly, you need to find the best lawyer to represent you. 

There are a couple different ways can go about doing this, like trawling through a phone book, scrolling through law firm websites, or asking your friends’ mom who works in HR to link you up with her company lawyer. 


Why is it so important to find the right lawyer? And how will that help me save on legal fees?


First, you need to find a lawyer appropriate to the case. Sometimes that means looking to a big law firm in a big city, but if you’re looking to save on legal fees then chances are a local law firm is your best bet.


When you find a lawyer that specializes in the area of law that you need, you’ll save time and money! 


Second, you should review your options to find a lawyer that you can trust to get the job done, and get it done quickly. If they stall and delay or waste your time in any way, take that as a sign to move on and find someone else who is focused on the task and efficient with their time.


Remember, you lawyer’s time is what you pay for, so simple efficiency can go a long way in cutting down on your legal fees.


Saving time will help you in the long run, but you still need to start in the right place to budget appropriately. Never be afraid to ask for a lawyer’s hourly fees up front and find out if they charge an initial retainer fee.


You can find more information about How to Find a Lawyer here.[link to How to Find a Lawyer article]


2.     Be a Good Communicator


Once you are satisfied with your choice of lawyer, the next step is to establish a good line of communication with them. If you are honest and up front about your financial situation, a good lawyer will help you save on legal fees. 


It is important to remember that good communication goes both ways. First, you need to listen to your lawyer. They are the expert here and have handled many problems like yours in the past. They will know the best approach. 


You can save a lot of money on legal fees if you listen to what your lawyer has to say and follow their instructions carefully. Any extra work they have to do because of small mistakes can add up and cost you a fortune down the road.


When you speak to your lawyer, be clear about what you want to achieve and stay on topic.


No matter what kind of hardships you’ve been through and no matter why you need a lawyer, remember that your lawyer is a legal expert - not your therapist! While they can only help with the legal side of your issues, they will still bill you for the time you spend rambling about your ex ruining the potato salad at your family function. Do yourself and your wallet a favour by saving your conversations and stories for your friends, families, and – if necessary –your actual therapist.


If your case involves changing and ongoing circumstances, such as a divorce, make sure you keep complete records of any communications between yourself and anyone else involved in the case. 


Quick calls, life updates, and rambling stories may help you build rapport with a lawyer, but they can quickly add up and, if you happen to have a long case, could become massive expenses in the long run.


To save money on legal fees, keep your communication with your lawyer short, simple, and to the point.


3.     Work the System 


When you know what you’re really paying for, you can avoid fees for things you don’t need. Ask for a detailed bill from your lawyer and keep a detailed record of conversations you have with your lawyer on the phone and in person – that way, you can compare your notes to the bill. 


Some lawyers may charge you a minimum for a phone call – meaning that any call will be billed at 5 minutes, or even 15 – even if it lasts less than a minute. Ask your lawyer about their rate for calls and plan ahead accordingly or, even better, stick to e-mail.

Along the same vein, legal work is often broken down into much smaller time increments than an hourly rate. In many large law firms in Canada, the work is billed in 6-minute increments (0.1 hours). 


The minimum a lawyer will charge for any work is 0.1 hours. This means that a 1-minute call costs the same as a 5-minuute call.


In order to get the most out of every minute billed by your lawyer, the key is to always be organized and to make the most out of every 6 minutes.


Don’t trickle information to them piece by piece but send over everything they ask for at once, and refrain from calling or e-mailing to check in with the progress they are making on your case. 


Another way to work the system and to avoid legal fees, respond quickly to any requests that come from your lawyer. Be prepared to send them any documents or information that you know they are going to need so they can put it to use right away.


4.     Less Work = More Money


One of the best ways to save money on legal fees is to reduce how much the lawyer has to do. Often times, there are a lot of things you can do to reduce how much work has to be done by a hired law firm. In the legal field, this kind of work is called self-help.


Most lawyers have an office full of assistants and interns that sometimes do mundane tasks like organizing documents, naming documents, and filing documents with the courts. All of this work will be billed by the firm and that provides a huge opportunity for saving on fees.

This type of work involves photocopying documents or delivering documents from the lawyer to another office or vice versa. It may take up some of your time but will save you a lot of money in the long run.

Another task you can do with your lawyer to save on legal fees is to request documents or public records that your lawyer needs for your case. You would be surprised how much money you can save by completing simple tasks like these on your own. 

If your lawyer hires a third party to do any of this kind of work, you will owe them a reimbursement in the future. This kind of payment is called a disbursement. The more disbursement payments you can avoid, the more you will save on legal fees.

There is another kind of work you can do at the outset of your case to offset legal fees. Any pertinent facts and documents related to the case need to be brought to the attention of your lawyer right off the bat. This is called discovery and is an essential part of any legal proceedings. 

If you can help your lawyer speed up the discovery process, you can save yourself a bundle on legal fees!

5.     Lean into the Support System


Once you have found the right lawyer, established a good line of communication, and have offered up some of your time to help your lawyer, there isn’t much more you can do to cut back costs.


However, there may be some financial support available to you to help you offset the cost of a drawn-out legal battle.


If you are going through a divorce or are seeking protection from someone who might harm you or your children, there may be community organizations in your area that will help to support you. There may even be great lawyers willing to work at a discount to do what they believe is right. 


Depending on the province you live in, there may also be financial support available to you from the provincial government. One of the reasons we pay taxes in Canada is so that we can guarantee legal representation for everyone that absolutely requires it.


If you have exhausted all the other options, you may also want to consider crowdsourcing to fund your legal proceedings. While it may seem narcissistic or greedy to hope that you can help to pay off legal fees through the generosity of your community, sometimes we have few other options.


No matter what your financial situation is, you deserve the peace of mind offered by the best legal counsel you can find. 


6.     Avoid Court 


Last but certainly not least, one of the best possible ways to avoid legal fees is to avoid going to court altogether. Court fees make up the bulk of the cost of divorce and other civil proceedings. 


There are other avenues available to people looking for a civilized and low-cost approach to divorce, such as settlemet, mediation, arbitration, and collaborative practice. 


Settlement is the easiest way. It takes the least amount of time, least amount of money, and usually the least amount of stress as well. You can reach a settlement when both parties agree to the terms of an agreement. 


This usually means sacrificing a little of what you want to get what you need. A settlement is the way to go if you just want to get it over with.


Mediation is a process through which a single mediator helps a couple come to an agreement about the future of third marriage, and whether separation or divorce may be the best option. While a mediator is often a lawyer, it may also be a psychologist, social worker, or other professional. 


During the process of mediation, the mediator does not impose a decision on the case – they only guide the people involved in the case to an appropriate decision. 


Another benefit of mediation is that you can decided the level of confidentiality this process abides by though open mediation or closed mediation.


Arbitration is a little bit different from mediation in that the arbiter acts as a judge in the case and does impose a decision. 


Either way, mediation and arbitration are significantly less costly than going to court for divorce.




Legal fees can be a major hassle but if you follow these six tips, you can save yourself a lot of money!


Follow this process and the load on your wallet will lighten considerably: 


First, take the time to find the right lawyer. Once you have done so, be a good communicator and keep things short, accurate, and to the point. Next, get yourself organized and work the system. Once you know how you are being charged and why, you can play it to your advantage! 


You can gain an even greater advantage when you roll up your sleeves and do some dirty work yourself. It may seem complicated from the outside, but a lot of legal work is mundane and easy to do on your own. Once you have set yourself up to succeed, lean into the systems of support around you. 


Finally, keep in mind that the best thing you can do to save money on legal fees is to avoid going to court at all. Aim for a settlement and if that doesn’t work, work towards mediation or arbitrage.