I often joke that my clients are never happy to see me. With a practice focused on domestic relations and general civil litigation, most of my clients are either going through a divorce or participating in a lawsuit. Both of these situations can be stressful, emotional and just plain draining. When I meet with clients for the first time, they are usually already experiencing the stress brought about by their legal issues, but they may not have realized the financial impact of litigation. Attorneys are encouraged by the Ohio Supreme Court Rules of Professional Conduct to provide our billing rates to our clients in writing. In most cases, simply informing a client of my hourly rate will not put him or her on notice of the broad range of total attorney’s fees he or she could potentially end up incurring. I think it is important to discuss at the outset of my representation what clients can do to help me provide them with the most efficient service under the circumstances.
Recently I read Common Errors Can Effect Your Divorce by Diane L. Danois, J.D. in the Huffington Post. The author describes six “common errors” that individuals can make when going through a divorce that have the effect of significantly and unnecessarily increasing attorney’s fees. From using your attorney as a therapist to asking family or friends for legal advice to failing to really know the attorney you hire–these tips are universal. Whether you are participating in business or personal litigation, keep this article in mind. Becoming aware of these “common errors” before you receive your first bill from your attorney can save you money and added stress.
Finally, I’d like to note one more common error: Failing to talk to your attorney about fees and strategy throughout the representation. Even when you find yourself in a legal situation you’d rather not be in, hiring a good attorney is a smart investment. As is true with just about any transaction, being an informed consumer can save you money. Take the time to discuss with your attorney which steps are essential to best achieve your desired goals and what types of activities may be less efficient under the circumstances. Avoiding these “common errors” is likely the best way to minimize unnecessary attorney’s fees. Open communication with your attorney will give you the confidence of knowing that you and your attorney are working together toward your financial goal as well.