How You Can Minimize Your Attorney Fees & Costs
Get the Most Out of Your Legal Representation In Your Case
Whether you choose to work with our office or another office, we want to provide you with some tips to save/minimize your attorney fees and get the most out of your legal representation and the legal process.
First and foremost, it is important to remember that a good attorney-client relationship is a partnership and a collaboration between the lawyer and the client. The client (rightfully so!) expects the attorney to provide top notch legal services. The attorney needs to count on the client to be truthful, forthcoming and communicate with ongoing information and provide and update relevant information and documents as needed and required by the case. We provide all drafts of correspondence and Court documents to our clients before we file them or transmit them to the other party, the other lawyer or the court to ensure that the documents are accurate, consistent with your position, as well as the tone and message you want to send in your case. The attorney client relationship requires a lot of coordination and cooperation to ensure that the best possible plan for your case is being developed and executed during all phases of the process!
Specific Guidelines about how you can limit or reduce your fees and maximize the best possibility for success with a positive outcome:
• Similar to many other family law firms, our firm bills its clients based upon the time we spend on your case. Thus, whatever you can do as part of our partnership that limits our time, the more we can successfully reduce or minimize your costs. Again, the best attorney client partnership comes about through communication and working together.
• When we provide you with projects and assignments for your case, please complete them to the best of your abilities and as thorough as possible.
• There could be occasions where we ask for similar information organized in different ways or placed in different documents. Although some of the requests may seem to overlap, simply providing the information as organized as possible, will minimize our efforts to review your file and put together the information.
• We have found that the more information you proactively give us early on in your case, the less attorney and paralegal time that is involved or required to put together the information needed for your case. If you provide us with one document at a time or we have to regularly follow-up to receive documents that are required, obviously, there is likely to be more time investment in this approach.
• We need you to be honest and provide full disclosure from the beginning. By giving us all of the information relevant to your case, we can give you the best possible advice for your case. You will not be able to say something we have not heard before in terms of mistakes or “skeletons in your closet.” However, if you keep relevant information from your lawyer, we may plan a strategy that does not take this information into account. It wastes your money if your attorney plans a strategy and then later learns of important and relevant facts that you failed to share. We can only give you our best advice- what you pay us for- by you giving us all of the facts needed to give that advice!
• As the result of how the court’s view certain information, not all of the information you may want to provide us will be relevant to what the Court ultimately decides. However, unless you are an attorney, you may not know the distinction between what is relevant and what is not. During your initial consultation you will be providing us with certain information that is necessary to determine how your case proceeds. However, the initial consultation cannot possibly address all of the detailed facts and circumstances of your case. Although your attorney will ask for follow up information as needed, you should also work to proactively disclose information and particularly, to share all details- whether good or bad, in discussing any given situation.
• Consider emailing your questions or relevant information as opposed to calling the attorney and trying to convey the information by telephone. This has two benefits: 1) you can “save up” your questions for a few days and send them together and 2) if you get written responses to your questions, you can save those and go back at a later time and review them again. If you call the office every time that you want to talk to the attorney, not only is this likely to add to your costs, but often phone calls are not the most efficient way to answer questions. If you email your questions, your attorney may be able to more quickly respond and may be able to provide shorter/more direct answers than a phone call often allows for.
• Promptly respond to requests for information and documentation from our office. This will save the time involved with us following up with you or attempting to determine what information and documentation is missing.
• You will be asked for documentation as your case proceeds. In divorce cases this includes documents regarding all assets and debts. If you do not have the documents in your possession when requested, it will be most cost-effective for you to determine a method to obtain the documents (for example, calling the bank to obtain statements). While your attorney can give you some guidance on obtaining documents if you get “stuck” again, this is often not the most efficient use of your legal resources.
• Similarly, it will be much more efficient if you read correspondence from the attorney and paralegal very carefully and respond to every request. Again, if you piecemeal the information that we need, we are required to spend additional time to identify what you provided, what is outstanding and then engage in follow-up communication with you.
• The Courts prefer that litigants cooperate in providing/responding to information requests from the opposing party and/or their attorney. Sometimes a party thinks it is best to only provide some documents or pick documents that he or she feels are most favorable to their case and withhold documents that may help the other party or “hurt” their case. At other times, parties feel that they should “hold back” documents and not provide them until the other party has provided something requested first. It will look better if you are the honest, open party who appears to have nothing to hide! If you have made mistakes, discuss those with your attorney, but don’t try to hold back or hide information.
• Early on in your case, discuss the issues in controversy with your lawyer and how you will be able to gather evidence or other information to support your position. Work toward putting that information together in a way that will help prepare your case. Many attorneys seem to be reactive and not proactive. Our firm takes pride in making sure this does not happen!
What Should You Expect from Your Attorney?
• You should expect a return call, message or email regarding your communications within twenty-four hours, wherever possible (excluding weekends and extenuating circumstances such as if the attorney has several days of trial in a row). If the attorney’s schedule is booked and they are unable to respond, you can call the office at any time to schedule a phone, video or in person team meeting to discuss your case at a scheduled date and time.
• You should expect your lawyer to be prepared for any hearing or trial in your case. If it an evidentiary hearing or trial, the lawyer may prepare and provide you with an outline of the “examination” questions that the attorney expects to ask of the witnesses on the stand, as well as the “cross examination” questions that your attorney expects to ask the opposing party. The attorney should also provide outlines of any questions that the attorney anticipates asking any third-party witnesses that have been disclosed. Where possible, when you can help prepare or provide information for these outlines, you can significantly keep your costs down.
• Any legal documents with substantial evidence/information or arguments that the attorney prepares to file on your behalf will be provided to you in advance for your review! You should have the opportunity to review the document, make changes as needed and ask questions about the content and argument or other information in the document before it is filed. You should have the opportunity to make sure the document is accurate! There are some documents that will not require your review and input as they are more procedural in nature than argumentative or factual.
• You should always expect your attorney to be professional with you and listen to you (even when you are frustrated with the opposing party or the judicial system). You should expect to communicate professionally and calmly with your attorney!
• You should expect your attorney to be proactive in resolving your case and develop strategies to take the steps that you desire in your case.
Our Suggestions for the best, productive and efficient Attorney-Client Relationship
• Please respond to any information or document requests at your earliest availability. This will help ensure your case moves forward efficiently, and at a lower cost.
• Please be honest with your attorney always – even if you think it will hurt your case.
• Family law cases can be very emotional and there are often things that happen beyond our firm’s control. Although we can do our best to file Court documents as soon as possible, the Court calendars are often very busy, and lawyers cannot always accomplish things as quickly as you would like due to external factors. Thus, we request that you do your best to share any frustrations in a professional manner. If you have any frustrations please bring them to our attention as quickly as possible so we can hear them, understand them and develop a plan to address them.
Thank you for considering Pingel Family Law to meet your family law needs! It is an honor and privilege that we don’t take lightly!