Legal fees are expensive, right? But legal advice is invaluable when you are facing a legal issue. So it’s good to apply a few strategies to balance the need for representation with the need to keep as much money in your wallet as possible. Here they are, free, and straight from an attorney:
1. CONSOLIDATE CALLS AND EMAILS TO YOUR ATTORNEY
Unless time is of the essence, hold off on the urge to call/email/text your attorney for each question or concern that pops up during each day. It is better and more cost efficient to make notes for yourself and lump them into one call or email (please, no long texts).
2. ORGANIZE YOUR PRODUCTION OF LEGAL INFORMATION
Your attorney is most likely going to request you provide him or her with information and lots of it. It takes a lot less time to review information that is in chronological order, identified and explained. We love it when our clients use sticky notes.
3. START AT THE BOTTOM (OF THE PAY SCALE) WITH YOUR LEGAL QUESTIONS
When you pay by the hour, there are usually different hourly rates for different professionals in the firm. Some administrative staff don’t have an hourly rate at all. Instead of contacting the attorney for all questions and concerns, it is wise to consider contacting someone else in the firm with a lower hourly rate first. Most reputable attorneys have paralegals or legal secretaries that assist with each case and have a working knowledge of the cases and that area of the law. If the attorney is the only person qualified to address your concern, you will be told that and should be charged nothing for the inquiry.
4. TAKE NOTES OR BRING A FRIEND TO MEET WITH YOUR ATTORNEY
When you meet with your attorney, it is likely that you are going to be given a lot of information regarding legal and procedural principles. It is also likely that you are going through some strong emotional state as a result of the legal matter you are involved with. This combination often results in a limited ability to retain all that is discussed during the meeting. Taking notes, or a second pair of ears with you, will help you keep everything straight and reduce the need to follow-up with the attorney to reiterate the topics discussed.
5. ACT IN A TIMELY MANNER
Whatever you are supposed to do by court order, agreement or on your attorney’s advice, do it by the time ordered, stated or requested. Being tardy results in unnecessary motions, letters and/or phone calls to the attorney that require responses, resulting in more billable hours.
6. PAY FOR A CONSULTATION PRIOR TO RETAINING AN ATTORNEY
Consulting with an attorney prior to retaining her or him can be very beneficial. The attorney can review the case or legal question, discuss options, and answer questions to help decide if and how to proceed. A consultation can answer questions, review paperwork and otherwise assist someone who must represent themselves for cost reasons. Another option for the cost conscious minded or those with limited funds can be partial representation which is now allowed in family law matters. This can also be explored and explained during a consultation.
Attorney Kathy Boufford is co-owner of the law office, Bellenot & Boufford, LLC based in Newtonw CT and has been practicing for over 18 years. She is mindful of legal costs and strives to deliver quality representation and practical advice at a reasonable price. More information can be found at www.bbesq.com.