Just as every client has expectations of a lawyer, the reverse also applies. To a lawyer, time is money. To a client, money is money. As a client, you may not be used to the length of time impacting cost and may not care how long a meeting takes (until you get a bill for it). The challenge is to balance the interests. If a client comes to a lawyer’s office well prepared, time and money can be saved. Below are some tips to help you, as a client, make efficient use of the time with your lawyer to assist you to save money on lawyer fees.
The most important disclosure a client can make to their lawyer is their expectations. The best time to temper and set reasonable expectations is at the beginning and not months after time and effort have been put into a file. Communicating expectations up front is extremely important. Some expectations may be totally unrealistic. Talk to your lawyer at the beginning of your case to understand your options and what is a realistic outcome based on your situation.
Be on Time
Be on time for every appointment and bring all of the documents you believe to be relevant with you. As I stated at the beginning of the article, time is money!
Have an agenda
I ask every new client to provide me with a written summary of the reason they are seeking legal assistance and the issues to be discussed prior to the initial appointment. I want to know why they are coming to see me so I can be prepared and be efficient. They can never tell me too much; however, too little defeats the purpose of the exercise.
Make sure you bring with you all your relevant documentation including correspondence with you to each appointment. Organize the documents before the meeting such as by date (chronologically) or by type of document. If you have specific questions, write them down prior to the appointment and send them to the lawyer in advance or have them at the meeting so you don’t forget to ask them in the meeting. This will ensure your lawyer has everything necessary to work on your file and also ensure that you leave the appointment with your questions answered.
Legal service is an exercise in cooperation. Lawyers are not magicians. They can only work with they are given. Make sure you give your lawyer everything needed to achieve the desired result right from the very beginning.