Sunday, June 25, 2017 01:56

How to Save Money Hiring a Lawyer–Part 2

How to Save Money Hiring a Lawyer–Part 2.  In my previous post, I explained some of the factors that drive attorney fees as well as how important it is to understand your own needs to find the attorney that can best serve your goals—both legally and financially. That post provided considerations to use before hiring an attorney. Once you have hired an attorney, regardless of how much the attorney costs, there are one or more steps (depending on the attorney and the case) that you can take to help minimize your attorney fees and costs. The great thing about these steps is that they are based on something you have control over—your actions (you don’t have to settle for a cheap attorney to be conservative with your money).

Before I list the tips, there is one thing that you should do that is always important and helpful:

Prior to your very first meeting, compile every document (both on paper or electronically) that is related in any way to your legal concerns. For example, documents to look for (this list is not exclusive and each document is obviously not applicable to all situations):

  • Contracts
  • Traffic Citations
  • Leases
  • Mortgages
  • Promissory Notes
  • Letters or Emails from any other parties related to the matter
  • Letters or Emails from an attorney related to the matter
  • Lawsuits for the matter
  • Lawsuits related to the matter
  • Files from old or current cases related to the matter
  • Condo or Home Owner Association Documents including Declarations, By-Laws, and the like
  • Notices or Letters from Courts or other Governmental Bodies including the Department of Motor Vehicles, Department of State, Attorney General, Department of Agriculture, Business and Professional Regulation, or anything else from any governmental entity at any level
  • Subpoenas
  • Receipts, Bank Statements, Tax Returns, and other Financial Documents related to the matter
  • Anything else related to the matter

Now, onto the tips:

  1. 1. Don’t hesitate to ask questions (it’s your case and you have the right to know about it), but unless time sensitive, it may make sense to save all of them for one conversation or email (especially where you are being billed in tenths of an hour).
  2. 2. Take notes on anything the attorney needs from you. Often you will be responsible for providing documents or responses to questions and if you have to call to ask about something you forgot, you may have to pay more in fees.
  3. 3. Apart from the initial consultation (where you are looking for a good fit), don’t have conversations with your attorney that are not directly related to your case.  You may casually wind up in a social conversation with your attorney, but make sure to clarify either that it is off the clock or at least check your statement to make sure  that you weren’t charged for that time (it may be a little hard to tell, but if the legal part of your question was just a few minutes and the rest of the conversation took an hour, you should only be charged for the legal questions within the context of your particular billing arrangement).  If you are charged, it may just be an oversight by the attorney, so make sure to bring it to the attorney’s attention if you are concerned about it.
  4. 4. Don’t hide the ball. Your attorney needs to know everything, no matter how bad—it is quite likely in litigation (or other matters) that the attorney will find out any information you fail to provide, and if your attorney does not find it out, the other side is all too happy to share damaging details.  When your attorney has to find out something from someone besides you, it almost always is going to cost you more – either directly through research or indirectly through damage control.  If you know something is a problem for your case, telling your attorney can give your attorney the opportunity to avoid it, minimize it, or at least plan for it.
  5. 5. Timelines, statements, and narratives.  The more information you can give your attorney in writing, the less your attorney will need to write down and the less time your attorney will need to spend to reconstruct your situation.  Your attorney can use these tools as a reference for your case and minimize the need to follow-up with questions about details (which can get expensive).

All of these tips are just guidelines that may not always apply, but they are good to keep in mind as you work with your attorney.  Never be afraid to ask your attorney how you can save money on your legal bills.

If you need a second opinion regarding a legal matter or you have not yet contacted another lawyer and would like a free initial consultation about your situation, please contact The Gordon Law Firm in Oldsmar, Florida.  The Gordon Law Firm serves all of Pinellas County including Clearwater and St. Petersburg, Pasco County, Tampa, and the entire Tampa Bay area.  

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