Attorney fees are expensive. What can seem like a simply legal matter can often balloon into a larger-than-expected bill for attorney fees as the case gets more complicated or the other side puts up a good fight. The amount of the legal bill may seem outside of the client’s contract. But, while there may be no avoiding the bill, there are ways to help keep the fees lower than they otherwise would be. As an added bonus, the same tactics which can help keep your fees lower can often help your attorney be more effective.
Perhaps one of the easiest ways to keep your legal bill down is to be responsive. It is important for an attorney to have a good, quick line of communication with the client. There may be periods where not much is happening on your case, and then suddenly things will often come up in the case that need quick attention. If the attorney has to repeatedly reach out to the client to try and get a response, then that can increase the amount of avoidable time the attorney spends. A quick and complete response from the client will help the attorney to use his/her time on the important parts of the case instead of spending that time tracking down the client.
Gather and Organize All Documents
One part of the case which can generate a lot of attorney fees is “discovery,” which includes the written requests for documents and information that each side sends to the other. To help make that process more efficient, it is good for the client to proactively gather any and all documents, emails, text messages, etc. that might relate to the case and get those to the attorney early on. That way, the attorney will be more prepared when those requests come and will not have to spend as much time requesting the documents from the client. It is also useful for the client to organize the documents in a logical manner (grouping related documents together, or putting them in chronological order, etc.) before giving them to the attorney. If they are organized so they are easier to find / understand, then the attorney will not have to spend as much time deciphering them. In addition, it may also be advisable for the client to spend an hour or two going over the documents with the attorney and discussing them. Since the client is more familiar with the facts of the case and what the documents are, that time with the client could save the attorney time overall in the review process.
Efficient Phone Calls / Emails
Clients are often shocked when they get the first bill from their attorney, and notice that every phone call is billed. Communication with the attorney is important, and sometimes the case will require frequent conversations between the client and the attorney. But, it is a good idea to consider if the call or email can be more efficient. Instead of multiple, short phone calls, can those various items be handled in one slightly longer phone call? Instead of a long back-and-forth email exchange, would it be better handled in a quick phone call? Such considerations can shave time off on the bill.
Be Willing to Explore Alternative Dispute Resolution
Everyone wants their “day in court.” But, trials can get expensive are they are not always the most effective. Considering options such as early settlement negotiations, mediation, or other potential resolutions can save money in the long run as less overall time will be needed to get to a resolution. They can also sometimes be more effective, as it gives the parties more control over the outcome. Once a case goes to a jury, there is always a chance that the jury will find in favor of the other side. With an alternative form of resolution (settlement, mediation, etc.), the parties have a more active role in arriving at the resolution. Even if the party does not get everything they want out of the settlement, sometimes taking a case all the way to trial ends up with the same or less in the client’s pocket as attorney fees could eat up a least a portion of the additional gain.
If you are involved in a lawsuit, call the trial attorneys at Goosmann Law Firm, PLC, in our Sioux City, Omaha, Sioux Falls, or Spirit Lake offices.