Making the most of your Lawyer - How to maximise value for money

21 Jun 2024
Author: Mikayla Spanbroek

Insider Tips for Smart Legal Engagement

Navigating legal services can be daunting, but with some preparation, you can maximise the value you receive from your lawyer’s expertise.

We understand that legal advice is expensive, and we are transparent about our costs. The firm’s terms of engagement set out how the firm works, payment information, costs and the relevant hourly rates. A lawyer’s hourly rate reflects their level of experience, education and expertise.

Legal fees are primarily made up of the time spent. Therefore, the best way to ensure value for money is to maximise the amount of time a lawyer is providing advice to you and minimise the time your lawyer needs to spend on administrative tasks to figure out what the issues are, and how well they can be supported by credible evidence.

Quick Tips:

1.    Engage Early

One of the best ways to minimise the legal costs of fixing a problem, is to seek leqal advice early to try prevent the problem from arising. In some cases, this will be unavoidable. However, a lawyer can provide you with guidance and strategy options on the best way to minimise risk and set yourself up to be in the strongest possible position.  

2.    AML Documentation

At a minimum we will require your ID and proof of address. The level of documentation required may depend on your personal circumstances and the nature of your legal matter. Having verified documents available and providing these promptly to your lawyer prevents the unnecessary administrative costs and time of following-up for these.

3.    Financial Circumstances

If you have concerns about costs, these can be discussed at engagement so that we can work with you to reduce any uncertainty.

As each legal matter will have its own complexities and can be dependent on circumstances that are out of our control, such as communication and the legal positions taken by other parties, it can often be difficult to provide an indication of cost.

What we can do is provide you with regular updates of where your costs are sitting and whether these are likely to exceed or remain within your budget. If possible, we can take a staged approach so that costs can be considered at each stage, and you can decide whether to continue with the next stage based on the costs incurred to date and the information available.

For certain legal matters, we can provide a fixed cost. However, this will only be for certain types of legal work and will depend on complexity.

Do I have a case? Pre-engagement questions

Do I have a case? What do I need to do? These are understandable and common questions we are asked. Any discussion with a lawyer prior to engagement is focused on understanding your legal issues to ensure they are in the scope of expertise we specialise in and check that there are no conflicts of interest that would prevent us from acting for you. It is only after our services have been engaged that we can provide you with an assessment of your case, or advice on what action you need to take. This will ordinarily require your lawyer to spend time reviewing the relevant information and documentation provided.  

4.    Be Prepared – Information and Documentation

Come to meetings prepared. Before meeting, have available the key dates, names of parties, documents and any deadlines your lawyer needs to be aware of.

Consider putting together a timeline of events if this would assist your lawyers understanding of what has occurred.

Have relevant documentation and correspondence ready to provide. If you are unsure if the information is relevant, have it ready just in case, and ask if it is something the lawyer needs to see. If you are providing documents via email, consider naming the documents appropriately for ease of reference.

5.    What do you want to achieve? Deadlines, Expectations and Outcomes

It is important for your lawyer to have an understanding of what you want to know, when you want/need to take action and what your desired outcome is. This can help guide the advice that is provided to you and reduce the amount of time the lawyer spends providing advice that isn’t relevant to what you want to achieve.

If you don’t know what you want to achieve, it can take more time for a lawyer to provide broad advice of the options available. If possible, develop some clear, specific questions of what information you need to guide your decision making. 

6.    If you don’t understand, ask

When you are being provided with advice, make sure you understand and ask clarifying questions to ensure you understand the advice and options available to you. The value of advice lies in you being able to consider the advice and make informed decisions that are right for you. 

If you need advice or assistance on any legal matters, the specialist DTI Lawyers employment law team can be contacted by phone on 07 282 0174 or email

Making the most of your Lawyer - How to maximise value for money
About the Author
Mikayla Spanbroek
Mikayla Spanbroek is a Solicitor, graduating in Law (first class Honours) and Accounting at the University of Waikato in 2023. Mikayla works in the specialist employment law team at DTI Lawyers.