Whether you just need help drawing up policies to help reduce liability, setting up plans for how to handle any potential litigation, or determining how your organizational structure is going to be laid out, no business can afford to ignore the legal issues that arise with running any business. The best you can do is to try and make smart choices to help you off-set the costs, while getting the most for your money. Read on for some valuable tips for helping reduce your company’s legal fees.

1. Consider Keeping Legal Services In-House

While most people don’t want to hire a full-time employee to deal with legal matters, it can be very worth the cost. Having someone who is intimately familiar with your business can save you money in the long run, since they have working knowledge of your policies, liabilities, and relationships. It’s much less likely that a costly mistake will be made by someone that has full access to information, as opposed to hiring someone on a contractual basis who only has what you provide them, and may not have all the information that they need to make the best decisions for you.

2. Agree to terms and fees up front

Take a good look at payment terms before you agree to a contract with a lawyer. If you’re unable to hire in-house counsel, evaluate your needs, and determine whether or not you will want to pay a flat fee-for-service, or if you’re interested in an hourly fee. Depending on the situation, either one may be to your benefit.  An all-inclusive contract where an attorney provides legal review, policy development advice, and basic representation for a contractual amount annually could prove useful. On the other hand, if all you need is document and initial policy development taking only 8 or 10 hours, you might do better to have it provided on an hourly-schedule, rather than a large up-front contractual fee.

3. Preventative Strategies

It’s always better to spend $500 up front, than to spend $50,000 in litigation later. Don’t wait until you have a problem to hire legal counsel. Have a lawyer review all of your paperwork, policies, practices, and other documentation before you begin using it. It may seem like an unnecessary waste of money, right up until you’re being taken to court over something that could have easily been included in a contract if it had been properly reviewed. Never underestimate the value of making sure that all you have all of your bases covered.

4. Know What your Needs are and Hire Appropriately

You don’t want a criminal defense attorney drawing up your financial contracts, and you don’t want someone that only handles financial contracts representing you in court if you’re facing litigation. Before you hire, sit down and evaluate exactly what services you need, which ones you don’t anticipate, and then make sure that anyone that you consider hiring can meet all of your requirements, without charging you for unnecessary services.

5. Communicate Well

One of the most important things that you can do to help reduce your legal fees is to communicate clearly and effectively with your counsel. Make sure that you understand what they need from you, and make sure that they understand what you expect from them. It’s always better to ask a question if you’re unsure than to find your company stuck with a bill or a problem that you weren’t anticipating. Your attorney shouldn’t expect you to know all of the legal information, and should be prepared to answer even the simplest of questions. If you knew all that, you wouldn’t be seeking their counsel in the first place.

Keep these things in mind and you’ll be able to get the most out of your legal programs, without paying most of your budget.

Author: Katie Lee is a marketing manager at Harper Finch Lawyers – one of Brisbane’s criminal law firms, offering legal services pertaining to criminal and traffic offences.