For many clients, the biggest worry revolves around how much the representation is going to cost. Often I can provide lump sum estimates of costs for transactional matters. This allows the client the freedom to contact me if they have additional questions without worrying that the clock is running on their bill.
When the representation involves litigation, it can be difficult to estimate in advance what the total cost will be. Clients who are more engaged in the resolution of the matter can reduce their legal fees the following ways:
Communicate effectively. Bring important papers (financial documents, contracts, emails, etc.) to the initial meeting with me so I can accurately assess your case and let you know additional documentation that may be needed. Make a list of questions and concerns and then email together rather than several emails or telephone calls each day.
Assist with fact gathering. Discovery is usually the most costly aspect of litigation. Clients who gather, organize, and summarize their own documents save money and have a better understanding of their case. Additionally, clients can review and summarize discovery from the other party rather than pay me to do so.
Understand the short and long term goals of the representation. Clients who are able to articulate what they want out of the representation short-term and long-term have lower legal fees. Come to your initial meeting prepared to discuss what you consider to be non-negotiable and those items that may be negotiable.
Assist with asset valuation. In divorce cases, property is equitably divided between the parties. This requires values to be assigned to any assets subject to division. Homes, cars, and household items can be valued by the parties themselves, rather than paying experts to appraise. For homes, the parties can agree on one appraiser to value the home or select comparable values from websites like realtor.com. Cars can be valued through Kelley Blue Book or National Automobile Dealers Association. Values of household items can be determined from Craigslist or eBay.
Understand that litigation will be stressful. Clients who can view their case from an objective point of view will experience less stress and have more productive communications with me. Litigation occurs when the parties cannot resolve the dispute on their own. Because of this, emotions tend to run high and bad feelings are prevalent on both sides. It is cheaper for clients to express those emotions to a trusted friend or counselor rather than their lawyer.