This is Part 4 of this 4-part article. Please refer to the other 3 parts to read this article in full.
In addition to your attorney fees, you may be required to pay some or all of these extra expenses or otherwise referred to as legal fees:
– Filing fees,
– Per page or flat fee for word processing, photocopying and fax,
– Secretarial time,
– Telephone charges,
– Courier, postage, and overnight delivery charges,
– Reporter charges for recording testimony and providing a written script of the same,
– Court fees and other court costs,
– Lawyer travel expanses, including gasoline, mileage, parking fees, meals, airfare and lodging,
– Expert and consultant fees,
– Investigator fees,
– Jury fees and mileage fees (set by law) if you request a jury for your case. These expenses must be paid in advance,
– Service fees for people who locate witnesses and other parties involved in the case and deliver legal papers to them,
– Witness fees and mileage charges for people who testify at depositions and trials. These amounts are set by law. You also may need to pay travel expenses if a witness must be brought in from far away,
– Other fees related to your case.
Make sure that you’re not taken by surprise with any hidden costs or expenses. It would be wise to discuss them with your potential lawyer before you actually hire him or her. Also, you need to find out if you are going to be responsible for paying these costs directly as they arise or if you are going to have to reimburse your lawyer for these expenses that he or she may pay on your behalf. It would be in your best interest to ask for a written estimate of all anticipated additional costs. You can also determine a certain dollar amount and tell your lawyer that costs over that amount have to be approved by you in advance.
Your Legal Bill
Unless your case is under a contingency fee agreement, your lawyer would probably bill you monthly unless agreed upon otherwise between the two of you. As mentioned before, if you’re paying your lawyer hourly, you may want to establish a cap or a limit at which your lawyer needs to get your permission before spending more.
When you receive your legal bill, you need to take your time going over it. You do have the right to get itemized bills that would show you how your lawyer has spent his or her time on your case. The bill needs to show your lawyer’s fees and expenses with an appropriate explanation for each. For instance, if you’ve been charged 6 hours for a research time, your bill needs to spell out what exactly was being researched. If it doesn’t, you need to ask your lawyer for specifics. If something seems suspicious, don’t automatically accuse your attorney. Just give him or her a call and ask for an explanation. Even if it was a justified charge, this will let your lawyer know that you’re paying a very close attention, which is totally within your rights.
You can get on a fee payment schedule. This is a monthly payment plan which allows you to pay an expected sum every month on the balance of your bill. But, be careful with this. In general the attorney would charge interest on the remaining balance. And that’s more money out of your pocket. Many attorneys will arrange a fee payment schedule after they have received a retainer from the client.
And last but not least, lawyers are just humans as we all are. All humans make mistakes every now and then – lawyers too. Don’t be afraid to pull out your calculator and check the math on your bill. If you find that the numbers are not adding up, simply bring it to your lawyer’s attention. Anytime you think your lawyer’s bill contains an error or something that you don’t agree with, contact your lawyer immediately and try to resolve the discrepancy.
Not Being Able to Pay the Bill
If you cannot afford paying your lawyer’s bill, contact your lawyer immediately (don’t wait) to see if you can make any payment arrangements. You could ask your lawyer to postpone work temporarily until you can pay the bill. However, if you cannot reach an agreement, your lawyer may be entitled to stop working on your case. In some cases, your lawyer may acquire a lien on your house or property to secure their fee. So, it is recommended for you to come up with a plan on finding the funds necessary to pay your attorney.
Reducing Your Legal Costs
Time is money when it comes to legal fees. By answering your lawyer’s questions fully and honestly, you will save time and also help your lawyer do a better job. Regardless of how embarrassing or how uncomfortable your answer is, by not providing your lawyer all of the needed facts, he or she would need to spend more time figuring out those details, which will cost you more money. Remember that the ethics of the profession bind your lawyer to maintain in the strictest confidence almost anything you reveal during your private discussions. So, by providing your lawyer all of the needed information, you will save a lot of time, which on the other hand will reduce your legal costs.
Also, offer your time. Let your lawyer know that you are willing to help out, such as picking up or delivering documents, making phone calls, faxing documents and such. Instead of paying for an overpriced hourly rate for someone else to do it, by you doing some everyday general tasks, you can reduce your legal costs tremendously.
Disclaimer: The author and publisher of this article have done their best to give you useful, informative and accurate information. This article does not represent nor replace the legal advice you need to get from a lawyer, or other professional if the content of the article involves an issue you are facing. Laws vary from state-to-state and change from time-to-time. Always consult with a qualified professional before making any decisions about the issues described in this article. Thank you.