Keeping Legal Fees Down in New Jersey Matrimonial Cases
Lawyers' fees can be very expensive. Some of those costs are inevitable, but frequently the amount you are charged relates to the nature of your participation. Here are a few of my tips to get the best value out of the attorney-client relationship with your Family Law attorney.
Participate in Your LitigationAfter most meetings and phone calls, ask your attorney "What should I be doing?" and "What are the next steps?" Frequently, there are things which you can be doing that will ultimately make your attorney's job easier (and thus they will not need to bill you for those tasks). For example, if your attorney is preparing a Certification for you, offer to draft a portion of it for their review. Send it in an editable word version so that they can copy and paste portions of it and incorporate it into the Certification which they are drafting for you. If there is some aspect of the Certification that is particularly factually complicated, by taking an active role in drafting your Certification, it is more likely to be accurate the first time around and further, it will likely be drafted more quickly.
Stay (or Become) OrganizedThis is something that comes naturally to some clients and is very unnatural to others. To the best of your ability, stay organized! If you provide multiple documents, label them, make sure they are in order, and offer to provide them electronically on a USB or CD. If you're providing a prior Court Order, make sure all of the pages are in order, that you've attached the Statement of Reasons (if there is one) and any child support guidelines. Rather than send these documents in a piecemeal fashion, get them together as soon as possible and get them to your attorney. Usually, providing several copies of the same document is not particularly helpful but providing your documents in an organized fashion saves a lot of time and aggravation for everyone.
Filter Your Communications With Your AttorneyThe same rules which apply to organizing documents should apply to organizing your thoughts. To make the most out of every interaction, be prepared. Jot down a list of items which you will want to discuss before a meeting or telephone call with your attorney. If you feel as if you need to provide a lot of information, send one email detailing the week's events rather than calling or emailing every time something you believe is relevant has happened.