Every client wants to minimize legal fees, and a good lawyer wants to work side by side with a client to keep things managed and under control. Most of the lawyers I know want to form long- term relationships with their clients, and by helping the client understand the total fees and expenses and how the money’s being spent, you can help ensure a long-term client relationship. Clients aren’t going to be upset if they think you’ve treated them fairly.
What do we do to make sure that fees and expenses are fair and reasonable? There needs to be a lot of communication between the lawyer and the client. There’s a lot of different ways a deal can be done. In a world as transactional lawyers, there’s work to be allocated. Some of it can be done by the client, some of it can be done by the lawyer, and some of it can be done by either/or, such as preparing documents to comply with regulations. Sometimes the client can prepare those documents, and the lawyer can merely review them. That will help keep the cost down.
If the lawyer in his office is asked to draft documents, this may not be the highest and best use of their time. Sometimes the clients do prefer the certainty of having a lawyer’s office work on it, knowing that they have more of the legal eye and the understanding, and it saves the clients time and resources for other things. It really depends on the relationship, so what we need is a lot of communication between the lawyer and the client to understand who’s doing what and how because it can have a big difference in the total legal fees.
What are the client’s goals? Is it to keep the cost down, or is it to minimize the amount of time expended? Each of these can lead to radically different results in how the work is allocated to the lawyer and the client. I encourage clients to have a communication early in the process with our law firm or whatever lawyer they’re using to understand this work allocation. By making sure everybody’s communicating the same, making sure everybody has the same goals and objectives in mind, this will allow you to do more with fewer resources and minimize surprises at the end.
What’s been your experience? Have you had a surprise with fees from a lawyer in the past? What have you done with the situation? Join us in the comments below.
Each case is unique. Past results do not guarantee future outcomes. This posting is intended to be a tool to familiarize readers with some of the issues discussed herein. This is not meant to be a comprehensive discussion and additional details should be discussed with your attorneys, accountants, consultants, bankers and other business planners who can provide advice for your circumstances. Each case is unique. Past results do not guarantee future outcomes. This article should not be treated as legal advice to any person or entity. FreeImages Photographer Josephine Eber.
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