How To Lower Your Lawyer’s Legal Fees

You’ve heard all the lawyer jokes (How do you make a lawyer smile for a wedding photograph – ask them to say “Feeeeeeeees”) and read the bad press (“Compensation wiped out by legal fees”), BUT a good lawyer can help save you money, and money carefully spent on his or her legal fees is well spent.

o Is my first appointment free? Some lawyers provide the first appointment or initial consultation for free. Ask about this when you make an appointment. You certainly shouldn’t have to pay for an initial consultation, although some lawyers will try charging a fraction of their hourly billing rate. Don’t even consider a lawyer who wants to charge you his or her full rate for an initial consultation.

o Understand the law firm’s fee system before you hire a lawyer. Understanding what and how you are to be charged is obviously important. Billing procedures and rates are a common point of disagreement between lawyers and clients. The more you know ahead of time, the better off you’ll be. Again, this is another one of those questions designed to eliminate disagreements later on. Too often clients find themselves on the hook for hidden costs they knew nothing about.

Ask about the account management process – i.e. how often will you get to speak to the lawyer about how your matter is progressing and be given an update and breakdown of costs? If you have a tight budget, let them know and see if they will agree to a fixed price for the work – if it’s a straightforward piece of work, this shouldn’t be out of the question.

o Check for hidden extras. Ask what additional charges there are likely to be (often referred to by the lawyer as “disbursements”) such as searches, stamp duty, bank charges etc. Although it should have been made very clear, make sure whether the figure you have been quoted includes or excludes VAT.

o What do you estimate as the total cost to me? Don’t be concerned if the lawyer resists answering this question. So much of the cost of a case depends on the degree of conflict between you and the other party, and you know that better than the lawyer. You may learn a lot from the lawyer’s answer, however, so it’s helpful to ask. If your fee arrangement is to be hourly, you should also ask your lawyer to notify you when he or she realizes that the estimate is likely to be exceeded.

o What can I do to reduce the charges? Ask if there are any tasks you can do yourself to cut down on the amount you will be charged.

o Conditional Fees (No Win, No Fee). This means that if you lose your case, you don’t have to pay your lawyer, but you may have to pay the legal fees of the winning party. However, if you win, you might have to pay a higher fee. This type of arrangement is most often seen in cases relating to accident/personal injury, human rights cases and insolvency. Increasingly, forward thinking commercial lawyers are prepared to share the risk of other types of commercial transaction with the client. Expect the fee to be higher for a win than it would have been had it been a fixed fee, as long as you pay less or nothing for a “loss” or aborted transaction.

o Please confirm this in writing. In most cases your lawyer must advise you in writing how much the work will cost or, if that is not possible, how costs will be calculated. Don’t sign any agreement about fees unless you understand it and are happy with it and don’t even consider a lawyer who won’t give cost details.

o When do I have to pay? In most cases your lawyer must advise you in advance and in writing how and when you will have to pay. You are entitled to receive a detailed bill before you pay. Some lawyers will agree to wait until the matter ends before you pay them. Remember how and when you pay can always be negotiated.

o Negotiate! Fee and billing schedules aren’t set in stone, and the market place is competitive. So if you think the price is too high, or that you’ll need more time to pay the bill, try negotiating with the lawyer. ..preferably up front. Shop around but also remember cost should not the only factor in choosing your lawyer.

Corporate and Commercial Law

Commercial law is effectively the legislation that covers most transactions in the life of Joe Public, from the fine balance of a marriage contract to the more fundamental protection of intellectual property.

Corporate law, on the other hand, is the exclusive domain of big businesses and concentrates on the intricacies of corporate governance, finance and the ongoing cycle of mergers, acquisitions and insolvencies.

Although the two terms are effectively interchangeable, commercial law has a broader application in that it is not only applied to business alone; whereas corporate law is a specific branch of the law that concentrates on all aspects of business.

Thus, when one ties the knot, finances a car or house or even finds alluvial gold in the stream running through our property, we have to take advice from a commercial lawyer and follow the legislation set out in commercial law.

In South Africa, commercial and corporate law is effectively governed by a handful of Acts promulgated over the years, including:

  • The National Credit Act of 2005
  • The Competition Act of 1998
  • The Close Corporations Act of 1984
  • The Alienation of Land Act 1981
  • The Credit Agreements Act of 1980
  • The Companies Act of 1973

Commercial law applies to virtually any and all transactions and it is advisable to contact reputable attorneys before embarking on any deal or contract. Top flight lawyers will ensure that the deal is fair and, more importantly, in your favour.

South African law firms can and will give imperative advice on the following:

  • The administration of estates
  • The sale and carriage of goods
  • The acquisition of real estate
  • The protection of intellectual property
  • Inward and outward investment options
  • Tax, both personal and corporate
  • Marine, fire, life and accident insurance

The dedicated corporate attorney will take care of more pressing issues facing you and your business, including:

  • Acquisitions, mergers and takeovers
  • Banking and finance
  • Commercial contracts, including lease agreements, service and management agreements and licences agreements
  • Corporate finance
  • Empowerment transactions
  • Corporate restructuring
  • Stock exchange listings
  • Tenders

In a nutshell then, commercial law involves the areas of law that have particular relevance to commerce and commercial transactions whereas corporate law deals with big businesses.

Get a Commercial Real Estate Lawyer to Handle All Your Transactions

Lawyers usually play a very important role in broking real estate deals. By employing the services of a lawyer in your transactions, you will realize that your clients trust you more. Furthermore you will save time by letting your lawyer to handle all the transactions on your behalf. In addition to these, a commercial real estate attorney will come in handy in various stages of transactions and exchange of property to representing you on litigation matters. Therefore, regardless of your level of capitalization, whether you are a small time or big business owner; commercial property lawyers are there to take care of all players in the industry. You can always count on commercial lawyer for professional, knowledgeable and responsive services. Such lawyers cover extensively matters involving both huge sums of money as well as small investments.

Parties that can seek services of real estate lawyers

The industry is detailed and complex by virtue of the items being traded as well as different people and professionals that are involved. As a result anyone that operates in this industry that is not necessarily a buyer or seller of property can actually seek legal solutions from the estate lawyers. Such people include: Contractors, Tenants, ordinary citizens, Foremen, engineers and all players that are involved in one way or the other in building and construction have the access of commercial real estate lawyer. A lawyer will be helpful in cases where there is:

Breach of contract.

Work delay and or termination.

Injury to workers.

Issues of non-payment and collections.

Poor workmanship.

Use of poor quality materials.

Family estates and inheritance

Estate lawyers can also be very good advisors on real estate transactions and step in to resolve disputes arising from inheritance and property rights. Disagreements about property and inheritance are matters are always common. To prevent disputes that emanate from inheritance matters; the services of a commercial attorney will be very vital. Under this category, the lawyers can offer myriad services concerning family and personal property. First of all they can help in drafting wills. Estate lawyers can help you in drafting wills that determine the beneficiaries of your inheritance. This will be done with great considerations of the existing laws of inheritance as well as the desires of the property owner. Furthermore, the lawyers and their law firms can also act as custodians of such property in case of the demise of the proprietor and beneficiaries haven’t attained the age of property ownership. You can also handover the management of your property to commercial real estate lawyer so he or she operates under your instructions.

Important advice

When dealing with commercial real estate lawyers, it is always good to know the charges in advance before you commence any dealings. The firms that charge a flat fee are better than those that charge hourly. Furthermore a flat rate fees enables you to budget so that your problems solves.

Original – How To Find The Right Business Lawyers For Your Organization

Company and business laws in most countries and states are extremely complicated in nature. In fact, the longer they have been in place, the more complex they can be expected to be. It is this complex nature of business laws which makes it imperative for businesses to either hire business lawyers on a project by project basis or keep them on retainers.

The biggest benefit of availing the services of business lawyers is the fact that they can translate these laws into practical actions which a business can cope with. Moreover, their expert advice can also prevent a business from making mistakes that would otherwise turn out to be very damaging.

Business law is a field unto itself. This means that even if you try, you would find it difficult to know enough to be completely sure about your business decisions. Furthermore, time that you may spend on trying to figure out business laws can be better utilized on furthering your business. Hence, the use of commercial lawyers can save you a lot of time, effort and resources.

In a nutshell, business benefits of hiring professional lawyers cannot be denied for any business, regardless of its size. However, the big question is how can you find the right lawyers for your business? The following are some tips.

Evaluate What You Need Them For

The first thing you need to consider is what you need these types of lawyers for. Even within their specific field of work, there are various specializations because of how vast the field of business law is. Therefore, you should sit down and evaluate the type of work you would need them for, for the foreseeable future.

Consider Your Specific Preferences

Your preferences would also come into play when it comes to hiring lawyers who will offer advice on commercial law. For instance, while some businesses like large business attorney firms, others prefer small scale firms. There are many such preference based factors that you will need to sort out yourself before hiring a business attorney.

Check Up On Qualifications And Credentials

Once you know what you want from your business attorney, you can actually go about finding the right one. You should begin your search on the basis of qualifications and credentials. Any lawyer without the right experience should be bypassed for better prospects because experience is very important in business law.

Look For Recommendations And Referrals

More often than not, when a business hires a commercial attorney, the objective is to keep dealing with him for all business legal needs in the future. Moreover, the work of such lawyers can have a huge impact on whether the business succeeds or fails. This is why you should never hire a business attorney without checking recommendations and referrals.

Focus On Lawyers Who Have Experience In Your Industry

While there are field specializations within business law, there are also specializations on the basis of industries. The reason for this is that different industries fall under different types of business laws. Expertise in a particular industry is desirable, which is why most business attorneys make it a point to operate in only a few industries. From your business’s perspective, you need to make sure that you only get a lawyer who has considerable experience in your specific industry.

Entering Into Commercial Contracts With Your Lawyer

A contract is basically an agreement which is usually in written form and its purpose is to bind the two parties involved so that both of them will fulfill and follow all the rules and regulations set by the contract. It is more often that both parties benefit from entering into such agreement. There are several rules that are needed to be followed, rules that are either set by the state or by the both parties involved. Since contracts are governed by rules, any disobedience or failure in compliance to the agreement stated in the contract is subjected to penalties and sanctions.

In the business world, almost every transaction or commercial activity involves contracts which come in various forms. For contracts involving big transactions usually between two companies, commercial lawyers for both parties are necessary. Aside from becoming additional witnesses for any agreement, they serve as representatives for each company and have duties of ensuring that all terms and conditions are correct. Ideally, both sides should benefit equally from entering into the commercial contract.

A successful negotiation can help companies avoid waste of money, time, and effort. Commercial lawyers have the job of making sure that the contracts are comprehensive enough to avoid any problems and misunderstanding.

In entering into a commercial contract, you have to be aware of the background of the business or client you’re negotiating with. It would be wise to have an open forum and meetings to present each other’s assets and credibility. Credit check is also performed to make sure the companies are not just taking advantage of each other capabilities. It would be better if you can check specific details about the other company such as addresses, lines of business, owners and officials, products and services, records of affiliations to other companies, credit history, and credibility. A contract is supposedly built in trust and confidence but nothing is wrong in making sure about all the details. After making sure about the qualifications of the other party, it is time to weigh the pros and cons of entering into such agreements and if everything will be done legally. This will be the time you will need to seek the help of a commercial lawyer. He will help you evaluate everything from the proposal stage to contract signing. Seeking the help of a professional lawyer has always been an effective and wise decision.