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Pricing for D.I.Y. Legal Services

Have you ever thought about the cost associated with doing legal services on your own rather than hiring an attorney? My husband used to “save” money by doing projects around the house instead of hiring a professional, but after his most recent work I think he’s wised-up.

Checkout this example:

Attorney: The total cost to handle this contract dispute will be $12,000. We only do flat fee billing so this is the full cost, start to finish.

Prospective client: Wow. I didn’t think it would be that much.

Attorney: Oh, no? What do you think it’s worth?

Prospective client: Maybe $5,000.

Attorney: I see. Maybe you want to try handling it yourself.

Prospective client: But I’ve never done anything like this before. I wouldn’t even know where to begin.

Attorney: Ok. For $5,000 I can help guide you through the process. I’ll answer your questions and show you where to look for reference materials. I won’t do any of the work, but I can consult you. How does that sound?

Prospective client: Yes! Let’s do it. I’m more of a hands-on type of person anyway.

Attorney: Your first assignment is to thoroughly review the contract to see if there are any clauses that support your position in the dispute. If so, your matter may be much easier to resolve.

Prospective client: But the contract is 50-pages. I’m pretty smart but these legal terms are Greek to me.

Attorney: Yeah, you’ll want to clear-up any words and phrases that aren’t totally understood. If you don’t fully comprehend the contract there is no way to make a compelling argument.

There are free online references but those aren’t the most reliable. I suggest ordering a couple good books on contract law. Shouldn’t cost more than a few hundred dollars.

Prospective client: I need to read several books?

Attorney: Well, it definitely helps to understand the layout of contract law. I suppose you could read the chapters that specifically pertain to your matter, but you won’t have a good foundational understanding, which may be a problem, and you’ll need to fully understand each term and why it’s in the contract to determine if what you signed is in alignment with current law.

Prospective client: How do I know if the contract terms agree with the law?

Attorney: Again, you may do some general online searches to find the specific law that applies to each provision of the contract, but the information that you find may not be reliable. The only way around this is to invest in a really good case law search engine and to watch some tutorials on how to use it so that you may search the relevant case law in the appropriate jurisdiction yourself.

Prospective client: Won’t that take a ton of time.

Attorney: Of course, it will take several hours to acquaint yourself with the technology and how to properly do a search to find the case law. Then you’ll have to read each case to see if it actually fits or applies to your dispute, and if so, you’ll need to decipher what the law is from the judicial opinion.

Prospective client: I work a 9-5 job so I only have nights and weekends to do all this. It will take me several months if not years to do this!

Attorney: Oh, I know! It took me three years of full time studying in law school plus another decade in practice before I really started to make sense of all the nuances associated with contract law!

Prospective client: Your initial pricing is starting to sound a lot more reasonable.

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