Providing effective representation locally, since 1991.
“My attorney cost so much I can’t afford to pay my gas bill…” Really?
Attorneys are professionals and have a responsibility to be professional, not corrupt in their billing practices. But there is also a great deal a client can do in order to help keep costs from skyrocketing. Attorney time equals fees to the client. Below you will find some helpful tips on what you can do keep your case “on-the-cheap!”
- Help prepare information and documentation: prepare your file for the lawyer with as many details as possible, e.g. names, addresses, time of events and so on. If your case requires financial information (such as disclosures during a divorce) ask your attorney to allow you to prepare the documents on your own. You will be able to prepare your financial information much faster than your attorney simply because of the knowledge you have about your personal matters. Your attorney will need to review the information you provide and may need to re-organize it, but the time to do this is generally much shorter than asking your attorney to do the work from scratch. You will also save money if the documents you send to your attorney are indexed and include any necessary explanations.
- Prepare your story: Time lines and written history help your attorney. Each case is new and it takes time for any attorney to remember all the facts. The more legible the notes you provide, the less time your attorney will spend drafting his or her own notes or reviewing the facts.
- Use email not the phone: Ask your questions on email. If your question can be answered quickly, you will get a brief emailed response. If the answer to your question is longer, your attorney will have time to formulate his or her thoughts and call you with an answer.
- Bundle the work:You get more for your money when your attorney works on your case in large segments of time rather than working on your case piecemeal over many days. High fees often occur when your lawyer is making numerous phone calls in your case over several days, and the calls come in at different times in the day. It is also more economical for your lawyer to address all of your questions in one sitting rather than sporadically through-out the week. You may wish to think through all your questions and ask them in one email. The lawyer can respond to your questions at the same time he/she drafts any required letters or legal documents relevant to your matter.
- Open dialogue: Don’t leave the discussion of fees for the first consultation only. Discuss perspective costs with your attorney as the case progresses. If you are considering filing new paperwork with the court, ask your attorney the estimate for estimate on costs.
- Limited Scope Representation: If you do not have enough money to retain an attorney, consider hiring him/her to solve only the difficult problems in your case. You may hire the attorney to represent you on a limited basis such as drafting a particular document or a specific appearance in court for a particular motion. Discuss options with the attorney.
- Options: Ask your attorney for strategy options. If you want to drive from San Jose to San Francisco, there are multiple roads to take. Your case may have various paths as well. One road may get you where you want faster, while the slower may be less expensive.