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The insider: Hiring a lawyer

Published: 6:07PM Wednesday June 23, 2010 Source: Fair Go

Reporter: Alison Mau

1. Try to get a resolution yourself first. Quite often that first letter the lawyer charges you for, could have been written by you with the help of the Citizens Advice Bureau, or your Community Law Centre. You might find relevant information on the Consumer Affairs Ministry and Commerce Commission websites.

2. Being properly prepared will save you money. Have all your relevant letters and other documents ready for your first meeting, so the lawyer doesn't waste time (and your money!) getting up to speed. Remember every time you speak to your lawyer, even on the phone, it's costing you - many of them charge in six-minute blocks.

3. All lawyers are required by the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act, to give you specific information on paper about the service they'll provide. You can also ask for a Terms Of Engagement document that sets out the expected fee.

4. Ask them what their hourly rate is, and ask for an itemised bill and interim billing, so you know exactly what you're paying for as the case progresses.

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