How To Save Money When Employing An Attorney
Clients frequently ask me what will be the cost of their case when the financial arrangement involves paying an hourly fee. It is not possible to be precise over future costs. We inform our clients of the process from beginning to end and, at the outset, we identify those actions that will be taken and the approximate times that will be devoted to each task.
In cases involving litigation there are many activities in which the client can participate and his/her participation often results in significant cost savings to the client.
Here are some examples: Interrogatories and Requests for Production of Documents are routinely required in litigation. Often the questions and requests ask for specific facts and the identity of witnesses. There are rules of procedure which govern what must be included in an answer to an interrogatory, for example, the witnesses’ names, addresses and telephone numbers are required. A client who provides these and similar details saves the attorney and his staff from doing what is simply clerical work. The same is true for credit card account numbers, balances, the date the account was opened; also bank account numbers, balances, and the date the account was opened. The attorney and or his staff can perform these routine clerical functions but to me that is a waste of client resources. Requests for Documents again ask for a very large number of documents and providing the documents to the attorney in response to each question saves attorney and staff time.
Typing your answers to the interrogatories and your identification of documents and sending them to your attorney by email may enable your attorney to “cut and paste” the information you provide, thereby saving his time and your resources. Also, with regard to scanning documents — if you have scan capability, scan your documents, put them on a disc or a flash drive or email the documents to your attorney. Again why pay an attorney to do tasks you can do at minimal cost.
Financial Statements- the courts require a financial statement in most family law cases. Each cost center i.e. food, mortgage , utilities, requires the actual monthly cost. It’s easy to figure out what to state as your monthly mortgage but to compute the monthly food expense requires having receipts to back up the amount stated. Receipts, if they are bundled by month with a calculator tape attached to each month’s cost center, will lead to considerable time savings.
Communications between attorney and client should be on a scheduled basis whenever possible instead of calling and expecting to have a comprehensive discussion over the phone. It is best to have both an agenda and a priority of issues established before the meeting or at least at the beginning of an appointment because doing so can also result in a significant savings in time and client resources.
The above approaches use the basic management principles of planning, organization, and control that were shared by my college professor who taught “Principles of Management” in the first year of college. Clients who apply these principles and tools can save approximately 20% of their legal costs.