Dealing With Lawyers

Making Sure Your Money Does Not Go to Waste

Everyone is likely to interact with lawyers at some point in their life, and those interactions guarantee to be some of the costliest if they are not handled correctly.  It is also one of the professions that is commonly referenced as being full of dishonest interactions.  Lawyers have a reputation for being indirect and for not always being forthright, whether it be deserved or undeserved.  While it can be difficult choosing the right lawyer, there are ways to maximize the money paid for a lawyer’s services.

Shop around for a lawyer

The best thing you can do when it comes to finding the right lawyer is to reach out to multiple lawyers and ask them to provide you with a quote for their services.  This is one of the best starting points because it provides you with an idea of the potential costs.  This information has the ability to identify lawyers who might overvalue their services and it provides you with valuable information should cost-related disputes arise at any point.  It is important to have a reason as to why you reached out to a specific lawyer which can be referrals, online reviews, or news stories.  The quotes a lawyer provides you with can be negotiable, but it is up to you to provide counteroffers.  This is the stage where you have all the leverage so make it count.

Communicating with your lawyer

Lawyers are notorious for running up billable hours, so you want to make sure that all your communication with them is about your situation and not small talk.  The small talk that occurs at the start of your interaction with your lawyer should go no longer than a couple minutes.  If you want to have long conversations with your lawyer beyond your immediate situation, then it is your responsibility to track the length of those conversations.  Although most lawyers are ethically obligated to remind you that you are being billed when conversations deviate, divorce lawyers are required to show compassion to their client despite wanting to bring them back on track.  If the client notices that meetings have been going off track or have been redundant then it is important to send out an email addressing that issue to correct it for future interactions.  If this takes places early on, lawyers have the ability to extend courtesy corrections since matters that require lawyers can be quite complicating.

The best way to stay on topic is to ask your lawyer to provide you with an agenda for any meeting they want to have with you and so that you can prepare questions in advance of that meeting.  It is not uncommon for lawyers to schedule filler meetings to repeat and confirm the details of past conversations, but these sessions are avoidable, and they can be identified by asking for the agenda of a planned meeting.  If it turns out that the meeting will be centered around repeating and confirming the details of past conversations, you can supplement 30-minutes of your lawyer’s in-person time with a 5-minute email that covers everything.  It might seem silly, but when you consider that quality lawyers charge hundreds of dollars per hour, you need to aim for maximum efficiency when interacting with them.

Handling disputes with your lawyer

The back-and-forth nature of interactions with your lawyer can be overbearing if you lack the legal know-how.  Most of the challenges arise if you have not taken the prior two steps to ensure that you communicated agreed upon expectations relating to the legal fees you paid.  That is why it is important for you to have tangible expectations set out from the get-go and to have a paper trail of communication.  The paper trail can be as simple as summarizing the conversations that you have with your lawyer over email.  It is important to keep track of scheduled meetings and delayed responses from your lawyer if you are to have any success in recouping any portion of your legal fees.  Under no circumstance should you ever be rude or disrespectful to the lawyer representing you because they are representing your best interests.

If you have issues with your lawyer, your first step should be reaching out to them directly to try to come to an amicable outcome.  When you do, make sure to list all the reasons you believe your lawyer has not delivered on their services and the outcome you were hoping for, but be realistic and reasonable.  If you are unable to come to a compromise that is when you reach out to their professional association.

Personally, I see some of the “dishonest” label that seems to be placed upon lawyers being the result of their professional ethics which require them to go to great lengths  to defend some of the most reprehensible members of society.  Additionally, the nature in which you approach someone dictates how they will respond you, and I have rarely seen someone that extends respect be countered with disrespect.