Our clients are often satisfied with the services we provide, but let’s face it, no one looks forward to opening their monthly invoice. Paying money is never fun, even when it’s worth it. After working with thousands of clients, and generating many more invoices, we’ve noticed a few patterns and bills that are higher than anticipated. Here are five tips for a lower bill from your attorney.
- Take Notes: Make sure to bring a notepad anytime you meet with your attorney, whether in person or over the phone. Meetings tend to cover a lot of information, more than can be retained without writing it down. Additionally, the information conveyed tends to be highly important. Despite this, very few clients take notes. Taking notes is not only beneficial because it makes you feel more up to speed, it will also result in fewer explanatory emails and letters from your attorney. If your attorney knows you wrote the crucial information down during a meeting, there won’t be a need for them to spend time (and money) memorializing it for you. Also, writing things down makes them easier to remember. The more information you remember, the less time will be spent on redundant conversations, the lower your bill will be.
- Provide Documents Electronically: Maintaining your electronic file is crucial to your case. Your e-file is where we store all the important information about your case, including evidence we have received from you and the opposing party. Each month, our staff spends dozens of hours scanning, naming, uploading and organizing documents into our system. While they are happy to provide this service, shouldering part of this burden is a great opportunity to save money on your case. Upon request, we are more than happy to provide you with a thumb drive (including detailed instructions) that you can use to upload documents. By following the naming and organization rules outlined in the instructions, you can turn a thirty-minute e-file update project into a five-minute breeze.
- Bulk Communications: Unless it is an emergency, consider waiting to send that e-mail or asking for that phone call until you have a few questions built up. For example, if you have four questions, and you make one phone call or e-mail per question, the result will be four time entries. Now, compare that to sending one e-mail or phone call containing all four questions, which would generate only one time entry.
- Write Your Story: Pretend your attorney is the judge, and write them a letter telling your story, as you want the judge to hear. Don’t leave anything out. Information can always be easily weeded out. Make sure to include a detailed timeline of important events and explain your goals and concerns. Then, go over your story with your attorney, and rewrite it based on feedback from that meeting. Engaging in this process can save you thousands of dollars throughout the case, because it will help you and your attorney start on the same page with a single, unified theme, that can be carried forward into settlement negotiations and trial.
- Trust: Trust is the main ingredient in a successful attorney-client relationship. You are in uncharted waters (family court), you are filled with questions, stress, and anxiety about the future. You need an attorney you trust to guide you through the process. Finding an attorney who is worthy of your trust, and exercising that trust, will result in lower fees, and a better outcome. Your fees will be lower because there will be less time spent on attorney-client communications. A good attorney, without any prompting, will keep you informed about your case, and ensure they have all the information needed to successfully advocate for you. If you are concerned your attorney will “forget about you” unless you check in with them regularly, they are probably not the right attorney for you.