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Tips for Avoiding Unnecessary Legal Fees

Legal Fee Arrangement In an article entitled, “Remember the $60, 8-Word E-Mail? Client Shares Hard-Learned Legal Cost-Control Tips,” Martha Neil writing for the ABA Journal, recapped the story of Jennifer Walzer and offered some tips to consumers for avoiding the high costs sometimes associated with legal fees.

Jennifer Walzer needed help with reviewing a standard sublease between her and her landlord. She was referred to a firm consisting of 10-15 lawyers. The firm requested a $2,500 retainer fee and said that the total fee probably would not exceed that amount. However, Walzer ended up being charged $6,450 for the review of the sublease agreement, including $60 for a courtesy email to her from the partner saying, “I hope everything is O.K. Take your time.”

To put this into perspective; her landlord was able to hire legal representation to draft and revise the lease agreement for a total of $1,100. Jennifer’s original post can be found here.

However, exorbitant legal fees can be avoided and Neil recommends a few tips provided by Walzer’s readers. Neil notes that among the tips mentioned by readers were, “get the firm to agree to a fixed fee, get the fee agreement in writing and make a "business sense" review of any retainer agreement, striking out terms you find unacceptable.

Fixed rate fees for projects can help persons seeking legal advice to avoid the unnecessary costs sometimes associated with the historic hourly billing model some firms still use.

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