Many of you may be asking why an attorney is advising you on how to save money using that attorney's services? Seems counter intuitive, right? Wrong.
Good attorneys want to help people and provide quality services. They want to concentrate on providing legal services; not collecting their fees. If clients run up large fees and find they are unable to pay for the services, it benefits no one. Both the client and the attorney will feel frustrated. This will get in the way of getting effective representation.
1. Provide the attorney with the documentation that the lawyer and her staff requested. The more time that they have to spend chasing you for the documents, the more it will cost.
2. Get your own financial records. Yes, attorneys can subpoena your credit card records. However that costs you time and money. If you go on line and download the statements or call the company, it is usually faster and less expensive.
3. Make a list of items that you want to discuss with the attorney before you call him. Be organized in your presentation. Keep track of the answers.
4. Organize your questions in an email to the lawyer before you call. Try to keep the list of questions to no more than 3 at a time. If the lawyer has a chance to review your questions and think about the answers in advance, the response, either by email or telephone, will be more thoughtful and to the point.
5. If you have a large number of questions and concerns, ask for an appointment with the lawyer. Sending an email to alert her to your concerns can make the time more meaningful. If you are feeling anxious or need to discuss an emotionally charged issue, better to have a face-to-face conference.
6. Prepare for mediation or collaborative practice sessions. Think about how you wish to prioritize the issues. Do you want to discuss parenting time or custody issues first? Are there emergent financial issues that must be addressed right away? Make time to develop your agenda and share it with your lawyer. If either of you needs to do some homework before the session, you will have a chance to plan for that.
7. Ask your lawyer to explain the process before a mediation session, collaborative practice meeting or a court hearing, so you feel less anxious and come prepared.
8. If you would feel better meeting the lawyer and have her accompany you to the session, make arrangements with her support staff.
9. Work with other specialists that the lawyer recommends. If you do not yet have a therapist, consider finding one. If your lawyer suggests working with a financial professional, such as a CPA, following up.
10. If you are having doubts about whether the alternative dispute resolution processes, such as mediation and collaborative practice is the best way to resolve your case, discuss your concerns with your lawyer. He might suggest that you go to the local courthouse and observe a trial or otion hearings so you have a point of comparison.
The single best determinant of how much a divorce will cost you is the amount of conflict in your case. Some of that conflict may come from your spouse and you will have little control over that. However, there is much you can do to keep the fees as low as possible.
Finally, talk with your lawyer. When the retainer is used up and you are finding it difficult to pay the fees, don't ignore the bills. Your attorney will be raising the issue. Best if you develop a plan regarding how to make the payments and share that with the attorney.