How To Reduce Your Legal Fees
Simply by being organized and
remaining actively involved in your case you may significantly reduce your legal
fees. Your lawyer will provide you with a number of documents received during
the proceeding. This may include correspondence, court notices or other legal
documents. Not every document you receive will require you to respond.
Additionally, you may not understand every document you receive. However, it is
very important to review each piece of information and to contact your lawyer
with any questions.
Keeping A File At
To facilitate communication with your lawyer, it
is important that you maintain a complete file at your residence. You may wish
to use an expandable file pocket with individual folders for different types of
documents. The initial folders you should have would include a correspondence
folder for letters and memos; a "Pleadings" folder for any legal documents
(these documents usually include a court caption). Maintaining a separate and
organized file at your residence will allow you to review documents with your
attorney by telephone saving you’re the time and expense of an in office
Organizing Documents and Filling
Out Requested Forms.
Even more important, during your legal proceeding
you may be asked to provide documents, answer interrogatory questions or
complete other court related forms. In providing the necessary information it is
important that you understand what information is being requested and to follow
your lawyers instructions to the letter in completing any forms. Do not hold
back information. Assume that any information requested is necessary unless you
are informed otherwise by your lawyer. If you provide disorganized or incomplete
information, your attorney may spend a number of hours sorting through paperwork
at an hourly rate. This can be avoided.
You should also keep a notebook of any issues and
questions that you have for your attorney noting the date of your question or
issue in your notebook. When you have a sufficient number of issues or
questions, you should contact your attorney for answers. By waiting
until you have a number of questions at one time, you may
significantly reduce your legal fees. You should contact your attorney
immediately in the event of any emergency. However, you should ask yourself, "Is
this an emergency? And what can my lawyer do about it?" For example, a child is
returned twenty minutes late from visitation is an unlikely emergency. Moreover,
there is very little immediate impact your lawyer can have after the fact. Write
down the information and provide to your lawyer at a convenient time.
What if My Attorney Will
Not Return My calls?
This is often a common complaint in a divorce.
You must remember that oftentimes attorneys are busy in court, preparing
documents on cases or meeting with other clients. It is important that your
attorney organize his or her day to complete necessary tasks. If you have
trouble reaching your lawyer you have several options.
Contact the lawyers legal assistant to
schedule a time on your lawyer's calendar where you can have a telephone
conference. In that way you are guaranteed to have a time when you are both
Find alternative methods to discuss your
issues. E-mail can be an important tool which allows a lawyer to respond on
a regular basis when he/she has time in their schedule. Moreover, the e-mail
with specific questions will be present on their computer.
Schedule meetings before any important court
hearings to discuss strategy. Do not wait for your lawyer to contact you.
Do Not Use Your Lawyer as a
Your lawyer is not a therapist and should not be
used to unload your emotional issues. Though most lawyers, are trained to listen
and lend a sympathetic ear, they are also on the clock and billing you for their
time. You are far better off to find a professional therapist to help you
through issues of separation, anger and resentment. They will help you to
resolve those issue and may provide that help under an insurance policy or on a
sliding fee scale.
Focus on the Legal Issues
Listen to your lawyer and focus on the legal
issues of your case. All too often, divorce costs are driven up by emotional
issues that do not relate to the legal issues. This can have a costly impact
particularly when you spend hundreds of dollars on attorney’s fees seeking items
that are far less valuable and can be replaced. There are many examples where
hundreds and even thousands of dollars have been spent to argue about couches,
chairs, frying pans, dogs and cats. These items are replaceable. In property
disputes, ask yourself "do I really want this item, or am I simply asking for it
because it will hurt my spouse." Use the divorce process to "get out" not to
Don’t Try to Cheat
Hiding assets and delaying the proceedings may
result in higher legal fees. A court has the ability to require you to pay your
spouse’s legal costs if it believes that you have contributed unreasonably to
the length and delay of the proceeding