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. Here are some tips about how to minimize costs when working with your attorney.
#1 Have a clear understanding of what the transaction is. What are you attempting to accomplish? Transactions are often a negotiation. It is key to understand what your goals are. 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. Tell your attorney exactly what you’re trying to accomplish, and what the transaction will be. Avoid cost increases from confusing conversations, 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 explain how and why it needs to be accomplished, the easier it is for an attorney to understand.
# 3 Understand the benefits. There is often a communication gap between the attorney and the client. The client may view the legal process as being very formulaic thinking: “I need to get this done, the lawyer will fill out certain paperwork, and then it will be accomplished.” The lawyer, however, is taking a more nuanced approached, thinking about what risks are involved, what problems have occurred in past transactions, and how to avoid these issues in the future. The attorney is probably aware of many different issues that are unfamiliar to the client. It is a good idea for the attorney and client to have a conversation about what the attorney is thinking and why, and what the important issues are.
As a client, there must be some degree of trust. The client needs to know that the attorney is not just trying to run up the meter, but is looking out for the client. If you trust your attorney and know that he or she has your best interests at heart, you will feel comfortable with them. Look at their testimonials and talk to their past clients. Understand that they are trying to protect you. However, be sure to have a realistic discussion about what the cost will be. Clients obviously want to get things done at a very low cost. There are risks and costs involved in a legal process which needs to be managed.
#4 Be prepared. Much billing time in an attorney’s office is generated by fixing client records. The more you can do before you meet your attorney, by having your files in order, your documents clear, and your records in shape will keep your costs down. Having clear, clean, records and working with an attorney prior to your next engagement may bring the cost of future engagements down.
What has 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.
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.com/photographer Stephen Stacey.
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