BE PROACTIVE, CONTROL FEES

Perhaps the most common question business clients seeking representation ask is “How much is this going to cost?”  Although I can quote my clients an initial retainer fee to serve as prepaid attorneys fees for services rendered, how much a litigation will cost the client cannot, in most instances, be answered with any accuracy at the outset of a case.

There are several steps, however, that you as a client can undertake in order to keep your litigation costs low:

  1. Be proactive with respect to your litigation. Your attorney is your advocate, not your servant.  Ask your attorney if it would be helpful to provide them with a detailed factual summary at the outset of the litigation, and do so in a computer accessible format.  This will allow the attorney to use your facts in demand letters and other legal documents.  Another proactive step clients should be aware of is providing your attorney, at the outset of your litigation, with access to relevant documents and/or persons with knowledge relevant to the litigation.
  2. Schedule dates and times for follow-up calls. Like everyone else, attorneys are busy people.  However, attorneys usually charge their clients on an hourly basis.  Therefore, the time you spend with your attorney, whether on the phone or in person is costing you money.  By scheduling dates and times with your attorney as opposed to calling them out the blue, you give yourself the proper time and opportunity to compile those questions that are important to you.  More importantly, you allow your attorney to prepare properly for your meeting or telephone call and in most instances service your needs in one meeting or call as opposed to piecemeal calls and meetings.
  3. Know your rights. In the United States, litigants are not automatically entitled to recover attorneys’ fees if they are successful in litigation.  Attorneys’ fees are usually only recoverable by a successful party where provided for in a contract or other written agreement between the parties, by statute, or by Court Rule.  You should ask your attorney when you enter into a retainer agreement whether your claim includes possible recovery of attorneys’ fees.

To learn more helpful hints about how to litigate in a cost effective manner, feel free to contact me at cheyer@scuramealey.com or call me at (973) 696-8391 ext. 222.