I spent my career in large law firms, and I’ve seen big bills. One of the reasons I started my own firm was to be able to work with clients to minimize costs. It’s an issue near and dear to my heart. Let’s take some time and think about how to minimize costs when working with your attorney.
#1 Have a clear understanding of what the transaction is, and what you’re attempting to accomplish. Transactions are often a negotiation. It’s key to understand what your goals are, and what you want. Informing your law firm of your goals will allow them to conduct the negotiations to meet your needs in less time.
#2 Communication is key. You need to be able to communicate with your attorney exactly what you’re trying to accomplish, and what the transaction will be. Unfortunately, sometimes costs are increased when there are confusing conversations going on, such as “I just need to get this done,” or, “Please paper this deal,” or, “I just need some forms filled in.” The more articulately that you communicate and explain why it needs to be accomplished, the easier it is for an attorney to understand.
# 3 Understand the benefits. There’s often a communication gap between the attorney and the client as far as what’s going on. The client just often views the legal process as being very formulaic. The client may think, “I need to get this done, the lawyer has to fill out certain paperwork, and then it can be accomplished.” The lawyer is often taking a more nuanced approached. The lawyer is thinking about what risks are involved, what problems have we seen in past transactions, and how do we avoid these issues in the future? The attorney is probably looking at a whole lot of different issues that the client is not focusing on. It’s probably a good idea for the attorney and client to have a conversation, and talk about what the attorney is thinking about and why, and what the important issues are.
As a client, it’s key here that there be some degree of trust. The client needs to know that the attorney is not just trying to run up the meter, but is trying to look out for the client. If you trust your attorney and know the attorney has your best interests at heart, by looking at their testimonials and talking to their past clients, you feel comfortable with them. Then you should understand that they’re trying to protect you. However, there should be a realistic discussion about what the cost will be. Clients obviously want to get things done for a very low cost, and they want to allocate their money to other places. There are risks and costs involved in a legal process which need to be managed.
#4 Be prepared. The more you can do to be prepared before you meet your attorney by having your files in order, having your documents clear, and having your records in shape, then you can keep your costs down. You’d be surprised how much billing time in an attorney’s office is generated by fixing client records. Having clear, clean records and working with an attorney prior to your next engagement may actually bring the cost of future engagements down. Those are just a few tips for keeping your costs down with your attorney.
What’s been your experience working with attorneys? What have you done to keep costs under control? What will you do differently? Please join us in the comments below, we’d love to hear your input.
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. This article should not be treated as legal advice to any person or entity. Freeimages.com/Photographer Krzysztof Szkurlatowski.
About the Author
Shawn McBride — R. Shawn McBride is the Managing Member of The R. Shawn McBride Law Firm, PLLC. Shawn works successful, private business owners in their growth and missions to make a company that stands the test of time. You can reach R. Shawn McBride at firstname.lastname@example.org or (214) 418-0258.
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