Guest post from David Festin
I’ve been working in the family law practice area for the better part of a decade now as a paralegal and law clerk. In that time I’ve worked with many clients going through the hardships of divorce and one of the most significant sources of frustration has been their legal fees. Here are three money saving tips to keep those fees manageable.
1. Stay organized (or get organized).
Your case will involve plenty of documents whether paper or electronic, and you need to know where and how to access those documents and keep them organized. One of the most bizarre things I’ve ever seen in my career was a client dropping off a plastic trash bag full of crumpled receipts, paystubs, financial statements, and the like to one of my colleagues. This bag represented what the client needed to disclose to opposing counsel for discovery purposes. My colleague had to spend countless hours poring through the contents of that bag to find what she needed, organize it, photocopy it, and prepare it for disclosure to opposing counsel. While we still have to review the documents, staying organized or getting organized can save you on billable hours.
2. Do as much as you can yourself.
You’d be surprised how capable you are, and how much work you can do on your case. Obviously, your attorney needs to handle the legal aspects of your case, but you can help and save money in the process. Going back to my example of the trash bag, you can anticipate what needs to happen. Print out or make copies of documents your attorney needs at home or at a business center, organize them, and send them to us. Or, you can scan in the documents or obtain them in PDF or other electronic format from the financial institution and send them to us that way. When in doubt, all it takes is a quick phone call or email to the paralegal assigned to your case to find out how you should go about doing it.
3. Trust your attorney’s advice.
If your attorney advises you to take action or refrain from taking action, it’s because they’re trying to protect your best interests. From what I’ve seen in most cases, deviating from their advice results in fee-incurring events like impromptu court hearings, responding to cease and desist letters, conversations with opposing counsel as to why something did or did not happen, or other similar events triggered out of consequence. You and your attorney have come up with a game plan to make the process as easy and painless as possible. Have a brief conversation with your attorney if you think something needs to change before taking action.
Until next blog, keep your head up, stay positive, and we’ll help get you through this.