Tips for lowering lawyer costs
The following are suggestions that could help you to keep your lawyer’s fees downs:
1. Organize yourself. Think out a summary of the events, and, ideally, write it down. Collect all relevant and necessary documents.
2. Stay organized. Promptly respond to your lawyer’s request for additional information and supporting documents. Lawyers have deadlines to meet and need to be responsive to opposing counsel’s requests. Consider taking notes during your meetings and telephone calls with your lawyer. Always remember that your lawyer must bill you for his time. Make the most efficient use of it.
3. Organize your documents. When you are providing documents for your lawyer or transferring your file from another lawyer, organize court and supporting documents in chronological order and make a list of all the documents in chronological order. Providing an electronic version of the list will also save the lawyer’s time.
4. Make your own photocopies. Instead of paying your lawyer to do this, offer to make all necessary copies of documents before you hand them to the lawyer. A rule of thumb is to make three sets of everything, organize them well, and label them clearly.
5. Do not give irrelevant or unnecessary formation. Very often you may want to give more information that is irrelevant and not requested. This will result in having the lawyer spend more time in reviewing information provided that ultimately will be discarded.
6. Do for yourself what you can. It may make more sense for the client to keep in touch with potential witnesses rather than relying on me to have to continually keep in touch with them. Also, try to complete paperwork on your own first, rather than spending billable hours reading it for the first time while I sit and watch you.
7. Be candid when speaking to me. Remember that what you say to me is confidential. If you do not give me all the facts at the outset of your case, and they come into play later on, they will complicate the situation and cost you more in legal fees.
8. Utilize email efficiently. Rather than always meeting in person or talking on the phone, communicate via email. Email enables me to answer you more efficiently. It also enables you to hold on to my answers and review them more than once, which helps avoid misunderstandings. Remember, legal matters are complicated and may require a lot of explanation.
9. Minimize unnecessary phone calls. One fifteen-minute phone call can cost you over $50. The costs add up. Next time you think you need to pick up the phone, ask yourself if the issue is critical or if you are simply calling to have your hand held.
10. Plan ahead. Think about what you want to say prior to meeting, and write down a list of any questions you have before calling me. This will also reduce the amount of time I spend on your case.
11. Consolidate questions and ask them all at once. Keep a running list of questions and ask them all during your next meeting or phone call. Days, even weeks, might pass without movement in your case. You may feel impatient and anxious. It is easy to pick up the phone every time you have a question and end up chatting for a half an hour. Take a deep breath and resist the urge.
12. Be brief when speaking to me. Stick to topics related to your case because you will be billed for all the time you spend speaking with your lawyer.
13. Vent to your friends, family or therapist, but not to your lawyer. That is what a support network is for. If you need handholding, call a friend, call your mom, or talk to a therapist. I am there to be the objective advocate in the business of settling your legal matters, not to solve your emotional pain.
14. Consider what you will gain versus what you will lose by prolonging your case.
15. Consider a settlement. Depending on your situation and your case, you may want to consider a settlement. Negotiated settlements are typically less expensive than having to go to trial. It is not considered a weakness or a failure to accept a settlement if that settlement is fair and just. Remain open to all of your options instead of pushing for the “big win” in court.
16. Read each bill from me carefully and do not hesitate to question any charges that you do not understand.
17. Discuss your concerns with me. If you are concerned with your legal bill, or have any other concerns, feel free to discuss them with me. I will address your concerns and resolve them to mutual satisfaction.