Quality legal representation can be expensive. Lawyers typically bill for their time, so the more work your case takes, the higher the legal fees will be. But this does not mean that you cannot save yourself some expenses associated with your case. Porchlight has a few tips on keeping litigation costs down.
Find the right attorney for your case. Having the right attorney at the beginning of your case can help prevent additional, future expenses. You should research attorneys ahead of time and ask your family or friends for referrals. For most cases, you should speak with a few different attorneys before the start of your case to find one that meets your needs. (Hint: it is not always the cheapest attorney.) Hiring a second (replacement) attorney once your case has started will cost you more money as that attorney reviews everything that has already happened in your case and possibly works to correct shortcomings of the first attorney’s approach.
Keep a list of questions for your attorney rather than contacting them for each individual query. Again, lawyers bill for the amount of time they spend on a case. When you contact your attorney via phone or email with a question, the time it takes them to answer your question will be added to your final bill. So, the more phone calls or emails you make, the higher your costs will be. Instead of running up a long list of charges, try to include all of your questions in one email or make phone calls to your attorney less frequently with a consolidated list of questions. It will save you money in the long run.
Organize all the necessary documents and provide them to your attorney. If you are working on a family law case, your attorney will likely need financial and other documents to support your case or you may be required to produce these to the other side. You want to give documents to your attorney in as organized a format as possible and preferably electronically. (If your attorney will charge you to print hard copies as well, you can produce documents in both formats.) For example, if you group all of your bank statements for a particular account in one electronic folder and name them so they appear in chronological order, your attorney can quickly review them. If on the other hand, you hand your attorney a physical stack of bank statements for all your accounts mixed together and there are missing statements and pages, your attorney will then have to organize them him or herself and will charge you for the time that takes.
Do not confuse your attorney with your therapist. An attorney may be a “counselor” at law, but that does not mean he or she is also your therapist. Legal cases (especially family law cases) can be emotional. You may be tempted to talk to your attorney about your stresses and feelings, but this is not the most effective use of your money. Lawyers are trained in legal problem solving; they are prepared to discuss relevant legal issues and provide expert legal advice. Your attorney is not trained in mental health and does not have the expertise to help you address your emotional issues. To ensure you are getting the most bang for your buck with your attorney, it may be a good idea for you to see a therapist, psychologist, or psychologist to help you deal with the emotional side of the process (for more, visit our blog The Benefits of Therapy During Divorce). If you just need someone to listen, call a good friend and let it all out before you spend 20 minutes venting to your attorney.
Try to maintain an open frame of mind. Your mindset can have a significant impact on the outcome of your case. If both parties are hostile, for example, the litigation may take longer and will, therefore, cost you more money. But if both parties are more amicable, it is more likely that the legal matter will be solved sooner. Consider approaching your case as a business transaction: you are here to reach the best practical and economic result, and it does not make sense to pay an attorney $1,000 to obtain something worth only $100. The bottom line – be reasonable in your goals, creative, and willing to compromise.
These are just a couple of ways to keep attorney costs down during your case. For more information, or to schedule a family law consultation, contact Porchlight at (678) 435-9069 or [email protected]