Let’s Talk About Legal Costs

By Mitchell Clark – Partner at MBA Lawyers


Wary about engaging a lawyer because of the cost involved? Thinking about paying $440 per hour including GST (sometimes higher!) can be daunting, and for good reason may create caution about undertaking a legal case, even in situations where there are genuine grounds.

Are there ways to contain the legal expenses or to offset the lawyer’s costs? Let’s consider this important practical topic.

Firstly, here are my top three tips to consider at the start of your legal case:

1). Estimates

Obtain an indication from the lawyer at the beginning of the case, of the likely amount of legal expenses for the undertaking of your legal case. Often a case has separate stages and obtaining an estimate of the cost related to each stage provides a clearer picture of the work to be undertaken by the lawyer with the associated costs. 

2). Time management

You want assurance from your lawyer that the project will be run efficiently. In some ways, it doesn’t matter so much the lawyer’s rate of charge. What is more important is that the lawyer will only do work that advances your case and will conduct that work in a highly efficient manner. 

3). Real-life examples of a potential outcome

Before entering a contract, ask the lawyer to provide you with real-life examples of similar cases including court cases that the lawyer has conducted. You may want to avoid going to court (by using alternative dispute resolution processes), yet a lawyer’s experience in running court cases is extremely valuable in effective strategising that will often enhance the financial outcome for you.

Can I get the other party to pay my legal expenses, particularly if I am proved correct by the court in the taking of the legal action? Yes! However, often the amount is modest, and not based on the actual costs but rather calculated by reference to a government scale (meaning the larger the payout, the more money for the contribution towards the lawyer fees).

Depending on the type of legal case, the opportunity to reclaim your legal expenses (or a portion of the expenses) from another party, even if your case is successful, could be limited. For example, workplace injury compensation claims have restricted entitlement to the associated legal expenses according to State Government laws. 

As another example, often a civil claim requires participation in a pre-Court attempt at dispute resolution (which is positive, in theory), yet with limited entitlement to associated legal expenses at that pre-court phase of the case.

What is the ‘no win, no fee’ style of lawyer engagement that is seen in advertisements about compensation cases? This is the arrangement where the lawyer accepts to be paid at the end of the case, subject to the result, so you don’t need to pay-as-you-go. This arrangement helps with budgeting, yet caution is still required, and it is even more important to consider my top three tips in such situations.

If you are in need of a trustworthy and reliable lawyer, then please contact us at at MBA Lawyers. Whether your situation involves Business & Commercial Law, Employment Law & Industrial Relations or Family Law, MBA Lawyers can help. Please call us today on 07 5651 2000.