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Simple Ways to Lower Your Attorney’s Fees

June 12, 2022.

Simple Ways to Lower Your Attorney’s Fees

Some people simply want to “turn it over to the lawyer and be done with it.” Others prefer a more hands-on approach, and they prefer to work closely with legal counsel.  Some clients want to resolve a matter as quickly and cost-efficiently as possible, while others desire vindication and want nothing short of a judicial ruling or jury verdict. However, there is one thing that all clients probably agree on.  Lower attorney fees are better! Keep reading to get some ideas on how to lower your attorney fees.

HOW DO YOU KEEP LEGAL FEES IN CHECK?lower legal fees

Make sure your goals and legal strategy are clear. Lawyers work for clients, and attorney fees are based on the amount of work the lawyer performs for the client.  Clear communication and responsiveness from both the lawyer and the client is critical.  Above all, you must make sure you communicate clear goals, and then to listen and understand what actions your lawyer is suggesting. Remember, the less time they work, the lower your attorney fees.

WHAT CAN I DO TO SAVE MONEY ON ATTORNEY FEES?

  1. Come prepared.  Each time you meet with your lawyer, anticipate questions and come prepared with information. Bring a timeline, notes, etc..  Don’t make your lawyer beg for the information he or she will need in order to best represent you.
  2. Obtain, review and organize your documents.  The overwhelming majority of what lawyers work on can be boiled down to a few key documents. You don’t want to pay your lawyer to obtain documents you could get yourself. Nor do you want to pay a lawyer to “find a needle in a haystack” or to review unorganized or unnecessary documents searching for one relevant piece of information.
  3. Promptly do what your lawyer asks you to do.  Respond quickly to information.  Failure to do so drives up costs immeasurably.
  4. Stay on top of it. Keep copies of all papers, letters, etc.  Take notes when you talk to your attorney.  Keep yourself informed.  You’d be shocked at how often clients call and/or ask for meetings to re-review things they should already know, or to get copies of papers they already have.
  5. Be an “information gatherer.”  This one is especially true for companies and small businesses. You know your business, employees, and contacts better than your lawyer. Utilize your knowledge and relationships. You can often obtain information and documents much more easily and cost efficiently than your lawyer can.
  6. Negotiate Your Fee Agreement.  Once you’ve found an attorney, the fee agreement is the next place where you can lower attorney fees. There are many types of fee agreements. If you explain your circumstances, attorneys are usually open to negotiation in legal fee agreements. State law sets some fee agreements, but your attorney will explain these to you.
  7. Discuss Cost Early.  Don’t be afraid to tell your attorney during your initial consultation if money is an issue. An experienced attorney has heard it before. They will be able to give you an estimate of the cost and hours your case will take. If you can’t afford their services, they can refer you to another attorney who can provide good representation at a lower fee.  Ask about any “hidden” fees or costs. Your fee agreement should spell out everything you might have to pay. Ask to have the final say over any extra costs.
  8. Utilize your lawyer’s assistant.  Many of your questions and phone calls can be directed to your lawyer’s assistant, most of which is not recorded as billable time.  For example, questions about scheduling, getting copies of documents, or coordinating meetings and events can easily be handled by a legal assistant much more cheaply than talking to the lawyer every time.
  9. Understand the difference between legal advice and counseling.  It is obviously critical that you communicate effectively with your lawyer, but keep communications to the point. Oftentimes clients complain or vent about the opposing party, the unfairness of the situation and/or the legal process, or the tactics of the other lawyer.  It’s perfectly okay if you want to pay your attorney to be a sympathetic ear for you, but understand that you pay for your attorney’s time, and that you can very likely get a sympathetic ear elsewhere for free.
  10. Choose the method of communication with a thought toward getting the information across in the most expedient way.  Use email instead of the phone or in-person meetings when possible if you need answers to simple or logistical questions or are sharing documents or printed material.  Email can be quicker than phone conversations and in-person meetings to get answers to simple questions and locations of events, etc. If the answer to the question will be more complicated or if you have multiple questions, you may want to schedule a short call or in-person meeting to keep costs down.  Going back and forth over email and typing all correspondence can take longer than going down a list of questions on a short call.
  11. Offer to Do Some of the “Legwork.” The ability of clients to do and the availability of “client-doable” tasks varies from case to case and from lawyer to lawyer.  Some kinds of cases have many opportunities for a client to do some of the busy work, such as gathering records or making lists, while others do not.  Taking on these types of tasks when they are available can help lower attorney fees because rather than pay administrative staff to do the tasks, the client takes on the responsibility and therefore is not charged.  But not all attorneys allow this practice.  Solo practitioners tend to be more willing to allow clients to take on certain tasks in aid of their own cases because they usually have less support staff and can use the help.

 

Have Questions?  Contact Us!

 

References

Patterson Bray Attorneys.  Top 8 Ways to Save Money on Attorney Fees.  Top 8 Ways to Save Money on Attorney Fees | Patterson Bray.  June 12, 2022.

 

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