3 Easy Ways to Be Penny Wise and Pound Foolish in Relation to Legal Services


It never ceases to amaze me.

There are 3 simple ways to be “penny wise and pound foolish” I encounter frequently in my solicitor’s practice:

1.      “I don’t want a big long agreement/legal document; I just want something simple”

This potential client is no fool; he recognises that he needs a legally binding contract to protect his interest, but wants something “short” because he doesn’t really want to spend any money.

He even mentions that a “one pager” should suffice as relations with the other party are good.

And I explain that the only time that this document/agreement will be looked at closely will be if there is a dispute between the parties. If there is a row, the agreement will be scrutinised closely, especially by his legal advisor, and will need to stand up to close inspection.

This is the problem with the “one pager”-if there is no dispute the agreement will probably not be referred to again, and it doesn’t matter if it is inadequate.

However, if there is a dispute you don’t want to experience that sinking feeling when you look over your one pager and discover that it is either completely silent on the problem that has arisen, or has dealt with it inadequately and failed to protect your interest.

2.      “I would like you to review my potential employment related case but I am not prepared to pay a small fee for a consultation”

If I am to review the circumstances surrounding, for example, your dismissal from your job, or any other issues you have in your employment, I am going to need to do a few things. These things will require

  • My time
  • My expertise

The things I will probably need to do will be to

  1. take full instructions from you to get your version of events;
  2. review any relevant documentation such as correspondence, contract of employment, and staff handbook;
  3. check any relevant legislation/regulations.

Now, if you also consider that the maximum amount you could be awarded for a successful claim would be two years’ salary you might think that the few bob spent getting your case reviewed would be money well spent, especially if it is less than €100.

Let’s be honest: if you have a good claim the consultation fee will be well spent because of the chance of a successful outcome.

If you don’t have a good claim are you not better off finding this out at the beginning rather than embarking on a costly claim or legal proceedings with little prospect of success.

3.      “I’m buying a house but am not prepared to spend €300 for a structural survey-it’s a waste of money, especially if the sale does not go ahead”

This person sees the spending of €300, or thereabouts, on a structural survey on their target property because the money will be “wasted” if the purchase does not go ahead.

Let’s consider this closely: you are about to make probably the biggest investment of your life with massive money at stake, a decision that will affect you for life, and you don’t want to blow €300 of a survey.

If your survey prevents you from making a bad investment for the rest of your life, for example a pyrite affected house, surely it is a no brainer that the cost of this report is a great investment.

The same principle applies to any property related purchase or lease-there are certain professional fees that come with the territory. If you are not prepared to pay these fees you might be better off steering clear of property investment.

Because the consequences of getting one wrong can be catastrophic.


Think carefully about the consequences of skimping-weight up carefully what can go wrong versus what you are saving.