The odds are good that in some point in your life you are going to need a lawyer and everyone knows that lawyers are expensive, right? That’s why nobody wants to hire them. However, lawyers have gotten a bad rap. Not all lawyers are out to get your money. Some of them are actually there to help you. Most of them realize that you are usually going through a rough spot at the time that you need them, so they’re not going to take advantage of you. Having said that, there are some shady characters out there, sure. But for the most part, lawyers aren’t as bad as Shakespeare thinks – we don’t need to kill them all!
So, how can you save money on legal fees?
If you just need to get your will done, for example, law firms generally charge a flat rate for this work. The cost will vary from law firm to law firm. So call a few before you commit to one. Get some quotes and then make your decision. Or, if you really want to use a specific firm but you feel the price is too high, just ask them if they’ll give you a discount. Because most wills aren’t generally complicated, lawyers don’t have to spend that much time with the client. The assistant likely does the bulk of the work. So the lawyer can give you a discount off the standard rate and still make money. What’s the harm in asking? The worst thing that can happen is that you get no for an answer.
If you need something really simple, like getting a document notarized, you don’t necessarily need to see a lawyer. Sometimes you can find a notary at City Hall, or you can check with your bank. Some banks do have notaries. But if you do need to go to a law office, again, call around first. Law offices generally charge from $50.00 to $125.00, depending on what exactly is required. If you’re quoted more than $50.00 for a simple notary, I would suggest that you keep calling – you can likely get it done for $50.00 (plus GST, of course!)
—-> Make sure that you need a notary rather than a Commissioner for Oaths. There is a difference! If you just need a Commissioner for Oaths, you can just stop at a law office and get your document commissioned – most of the legal assistants who work there are also Commissioners for Oaths. They may do it for nothing, or they may charge from $5.00 to $25.00. Again, do some research and call around.
So the bottom line is – do your homework! Don’t just go with the first quote you’re given. Some law firms are quite happy to give you a discount if that means that they’ll get your current business. They know that if they get a client in the door, that client will likely return when they need more legal work done. Just remember – if you don’t ask for it, you’re not going to get it!
– Sharon Skwarchuk