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  • Please write down your story and provide it to your lawyer before meeting them. Writing down your account can save significant time and allows the lawyer to get to the main legal issues faster.
  • Don’t assume fixed fees are better than cost estimates. A fixed fee is usually an inflated price, sold to people that like one figure. The reality is a cost estimate shows the total amount of hours worked, whereas a fixed fee doesn’t give you the breakdown. For example, your matter may only take 2 hours to complete, but the fixed price charges you for 8 hours. 
  • Ask the lawyer about any disbursements, who pays them and how to minimise them.
  • A substantial part of a lawyer’s job involves getting information, so getting as much information as you can substantially reduce your total legal costs.
    • House
      • Use correct and up to date valuations of the property you own
      • Get a house valuation from a few local real estates.
      • Obtain up to date mortgage statements
    • Car
  • Prepare for meetings and telephone calls, take notes and recap at the end of each session. Recapping and preparing for meetings will save you from asking the same questions and ensuring you understand your lawyers’ advice.
  • Find a lawyer who will allow you to do some of the legal legwork; this might mean:
    • photocopying your documents;
    • scanning documents; and
    • drafting your documents and using the lawyer to review them.
  • Don’t try to drag the matter out due to emotional reasons, and if you believe your ex is doing so, you need to have an honest discussion with your lawyer on the best way to approach them going forward. You catch more flies with honey than you do vinegar, but that doesn’t mean you should avoid enforcing your legal rights because your ex is unreasonable.
  • Ensure you and your lawyer are upfront about legal costs and have it in the front of your mind.
  • Don’t just go to the cheapest lawyer; you might pay less in legal fees but lose substantial amounts in negotiations.
  • Don’t choose a lawyer based on friendliness and warmth. 
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