Follow Legal Cost Control Strategy

Follow Legal Cost Control Strategy

No matter how well you and the board of directors keep your community operating, you still run the risk of defending the association from a lawsuit, even if it’s a frivolous one brought by a disgruntled member. Legal fees are expensive, no matter how small the matter is, and they can break your association’s budget if you’re not careful. Consider the following cost-cutting strategies:

Hire an experienced attorney. An experienced attorney will save money—and time—because he won't have to do extensive research to become familiar with the relevant law.

Try to nail down ‘cost certainty.’ Attorneys generally bill by the hour; the more time they put in, the higher the bill. To stop the cost from skyrocketing, ask whether the attorney is willing to charge you a flat fee for a case or a specific service within a case. The flat fee should cover the cost of the case, or a specific task within the case, from beginning to end, except possibly for court or other outside fees.

Request billing estimates. In cases where you’ll be charged by the hour, try to get your attorney to establish a fee cap and to agree to notify you when the cap is reached and get your consent before adding to the bill.

Limit administrative costs. If you are paying hourly rates, you may also be billed for certain administrative costs. Instead of being blindsided later, find out beforehand what items you will be charged extra for and how much. If a charge seems unreasonable, ask whether it is totally necessary or there is a less expensive alternative.

For more tips about how you can reduce or limit legal fees and still get the services you need, see "Contain Legal Costs Before They Spiral Out of Control," available to subscribers here