In many cases, attorneys charge fees on an hourly basis and work on a retainer. A retainer is a fee paid in advance in order to secure legal representation. While the overall costs of going to court may be unknown, the good news is there are steps you can take to lower your legal fees:
1. Stay Organized – Your attorney should send you copies of everything in your case. Copies of court filings, documents received, letters to opposing counsel or parties, everything. If you keep an organized file of these documents, it will be much easier for you to stay on top of your case. Maybe you’re not sure when your next hearing is – calling your attorney to find out will cost you, but looking through your files is free. You can also check the status of your case online by using the Maryland Judiciary Case Search. Additionally, you should keep your own documents organized – emails, pay stubs, bank statements, household bills, etc. Having these documents in close reach will make your life much simpler.
2. Keep Meetings Short and Productive – Depending on your case, you may not have to meet with your attorney often, but you will certainly have meetings at various points throughout your case. It’s easy to walk into a meeting, start talking, and get off topic. Come to your meeting with your homework done. This might mean bringing in documents your attorney requested, or thinking about which route you want to take with previously presented options. No matter what your attorney has asked you to come prepared with, do it so the meeting can stay short and productive. If your attorney has not provided you with an agenda and homework list for office conferences, ask for one.
3. Use the Right Tool for the Job – Part of the reason you retain an attorney is so he or she can answer questions or concerns you have throughout your case, but mainly to provide you with legal advice. The next time you are about to send an email or call your attorney, ask yourself if the reason you’re contacting your attorney is because you actually have a legal concern, or if you are upset about something else. If it’s the latter, try calling a friend, therapist, or other professional, because venting to your attorney may make you feel better, but it is a costly option.
4. Offer to Help With Your Case – A lot of times cases require work to be done that isn’t purely legal. Your case may require lots of documents to be organized, copied and sent to opposing counsel. Offer to organize the documents in the order your attorney needs and to make the copies or scans yourself. Offer to obtain records and documents from schools, banks, and other sources so that they do not need to be requested by your lawyer. It may only save you a little bit of money, but in a legal proceeding, every dollar counts.
5. Listen to Your Attorney – Your attorney may ask you for the same information multiple times. Your attorney may tell you to do something, but then you do the complete opposite. Listen to your attorney. After all, you hired your attorney for legal advice. If your attorney asks you to provide information, don’t make her ask twice. If she tells you not to contact your spouse, don’t contact your spouse. Your attorney is looking out for your best interest and advocating on your behalf, but the more work your attorney has to do, the more it will cost!
We would be happy to speak with you about your case in a confidential office consultation. During your consultation, we will discuss the specific needs of your family, as well as our qualifications to meet them, so that together we can develop a strategy that will work for you. For more information about our services, please call (301) 658-7354 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.