Introduction

This guide has been prepared to assist you in keeping your legal costs down. By following these few simple steps, you will be able to significantly reduce your costs in commencing legal proceedings.

All it requires is some preparation on your behalf before you hand your file over to your lawyer. While your lawyer is able to do these steps for you, it is in your best interests to complete this preparation yourself as this will reduce the time spent by your lawyer which will impact costs for you.

Summary of the matter

This step paints the overall picture for your lawyer.

You can keep the summary brief, however, if you put as many details as possible, this may resolve many questions that your lawyer might have in the future.

Goals

By setting out what you want to achieve, you give your lawyer a clear view of what exactly they need to do so they can form a strategy to ensure the best result for you.

Chronology

Create a chronology of events listing the date of the event and what happened on that date.

By creating a chronology of events, it is much easier for the lawyer to pick up your file and understand quickly what has happened. As the client, you have the best understanding and knowledge of the events so this step is important.

Bundle of documents

Collate all relevant documents. If you are not sure whether something is important, it is best practice to include it as it is better to have it and not need it.

Once you have collated all relevant documents, organise them in chronological order from earliest to latest. Write a number in the corner of each document, then prepare an index which lists the number of each document and a one-line explanation of the document. This will be your bundle of documents.

Once the bundle of documents is ready, go back to your chronology. Add page numbers of the documents to the relevant events.

This is a time-consuming task, but in most cases, an important task. It will reduce your legal costs significantly.

List of witnesses

Create a list of all relevant people that have had some involvement or can provide evidence to support your story.

Organising documents and information

Take all the documents you have collated including your summary, goals, chronology, the bundle of documents and the list of witnesses. Then, put all the hard copy documents in a folder with tabs. For example, tab 1 would be the summary, tab 2 would be your goals, tab 3 would be your chronology, tab 4 would be your bundle of documents and tab 5 would be your list of witnesses.

Alternatively, you can create an electronic folder with subfolders and name the subfolders in the same manner.

You can also create an index page to go at the front of this folder. Or, in the case of the electronic folder, a separate file.

Then, deliver the folder in electronic and/or hard copy and copy to your lawyer.

Moving forward

By completing these steps, you can save yourself significant legal costs. A prepared file is incredibly useful and enables your lawyer to efficiently focus and gain an understanding of all important aspects of your case, rather than hours of review and organisation of your file.

Throughout the progression of the matter, there are many of steps that you can take yourself that will reduce the time of the lawyer involved and therefore reduce your costs.