No one likes to pay excessive legal fees, but few clients know the simple steps they can take to reduce attorney fees. This article contains seven strategies that can save you a bundle in attorney fees.
1. Avoid Unscrupulous Attorneys. Most attorneys are dedicated professionals who take great pride in their work and serving the best interests of their clients. Unfortunately, there are some really rotten ones out there that give the legal profession a bad reputation. Before hiring an attorney, learn about their reputation in the legal community. Avoid unscrupulous attorneys who have a reputation for doing unnecessary work, transforming simple legal procedures into complex ordeals, and making every dispute exceptionally acrimonious – all designed to maximize the attorney fees.
2. Understand How Attorneys Charge. Attorneys typically charge clients an hourly rate, flat fee or contingency fee. The type of case will largely determine how the attorney will charge for their services. For example, an attorney representing a personal injury victim in an auto accident case will typically charge a contingency fee (i. e., one-third of the recovery). An attorney representing an individual in a divorce or criminal proceedings may charge a flat fee. A business law attorney will charge a corporate client an hourly fee to negotiate a contractual relationship and draft the agreement.
3. Initial Consultation. The initial consultation is the place to explain your legal problem to the attorney, state your desired outcome, and ask five specific questions that will help reduce attorney fees. First, what is the attorney’s initial assessment of your problem? Second, what steps would the attorney recommend to achieve your desired outcome? Next, how does the attorney charge for representation in your type of case? Fourth, what action can the client take to control the cost of legal services? Finally, if you retain the lawyer, what is the next step in the process?
4. Get A Second Opinion. If you are uncomfortable with one attorney’s assessment of your case or have misgivings about their representation, seek a second opinion. There are many different ways to approach a legal problem. It is important that you establish a comfort zone when you retain an attorney and have confidence in their approach to your legal problem.
5. Understand The Attorney-Client Agreement. The Attorney-Client Agreement is the legal contract that defines the relationship between the attorney and client including a thorough explanation of how the attorney will be compensated and charge for expenses related to your case. For example, if the Agreement states that the attorney will charge an hourly fee, understand that every minute that the attorney spends working on your case (telephone calls, reviewing letters and emails, client meetings, etc.) will later show up on your statement.
6. Review Your Statement. Most attorneys prepare itemized statements that state how the attorney’s time was spent and provides an explanation of the expenses. Be sure to review every statement for accuracy. If you don’t understand a charge, ask for an explanation.
7. Don’t Be Unreasonable. Unreasonable clients should expect to charged accordingly. One of the most important ways for a client to reduce attorney fees is by making informed and reasonable decisions about the management of their case.
Armed with these seven simple strategies, you’ll be in a strong position to level the playing field when you hire an attorney and save a bundle on attorney fees.