Here are a few tips to follow to save on legal costs when dealing with your attorney.
Insist on Using E-mail. Always insist that the attorney communicate with you by e-mail instead of by letter. Studies have shown that using e-mails versus letters always save time. And saving time means you save money.
Ask Questions of the Attorney’s Secretary. If you have questions, start with the attorney’s secretary. Since it is unethical for attorneys to bill for the time of their secretaries, you should not be charged for time. If the secretary cannot answer the question, then address your question to the attorney’s paralegal whose billing rate is less than the attorney’s billing rate. Only ask the attorney questions if you know in advance that only the attorney can answer the question.
Organize Your Documents. If you must produce documents to the other party, make sure you organize your documents before you give them to the attorney. If not, then either the attorney or the paralegal (or both) may charge you to organize your documents.
Insist on Use of Form Documents. If your attorney tells you he never uses form documents, he is not telling you the truth. All attorneys use form documents or old work product from prior cases. Ethically and legally, attorneys may only charge for the time spent to modify the form document for use in your case. In any event, insist (in writing) that your attorney use form documents whenever possible and that if he must draft an original document (such as a pleading) that he provide you with an explanation as to why he did not use a form document.
There are many other things that you can do to save money on your legal costs. But one thing that you must do is to promptly review the first legal bill carefully. If you do not understand anything on it or have questions about the time billed, ask the attorney. It is unethical for an attorney to bill for his time to prepare or explain his legal bills. As I have said before, it is about the only free service you can expect to get from your attorney.