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Client's Guide to Reducing Attorney Fees

Let’s face it, the cost of divorce or custody representation is at the top of every man’s mind when starting this process.  “How much is a divorce?” is frequently the first question we are asked when a prospective client calls.  The simple answer is that there is no way to adequately determine that over the phone.  Experienced attorneys do not quote “one size fits all” retainers, because we know that every client’s circumstances are unique.  At the end of the day, the cost of your case is a function of both out of pocket expenses and the time your lawyer spends on your behalf.  The best way for an attorney to estimate the cost of the representation is to sit down with the client and thoroughly discuss the facts and issues in your situation.  Even then, very few lawyers quote “flat” fees in family law cases, and the cost of the case could go up or down based upon what it takes to complete the case.

However, there are things a client can do to reduce the cost of representation.  Here are just some recommendations:

1. Keep phone calls and emails to a minimum.  Running a law firm is a service industry, and we know that you expect your phone calls and emails to be returned. It is our job to make sure you know what is going on in your case. However, you will save a lot of money by consolidating your questions into one phone call, one meeting, or one email rather than making multiple contacts.  

2. Utilize your attorney’s legal assistants and other support staff when possible.  As long as your question does not call for legal advice, your attorney’s assistants can answer many of your questions, direct you where to go for court, look up upcoming events, and schedule you with a time to speak with your attorney.  They are an integral part of your representation and should be utilized whenever possible. 

3. Be prepared for your attorney conference.  It is best to write your questions or facts down in advance and be organized in what you need to accomplish whether it be by phone, email or in person.  Organize and copy any documents you are bringing in advance of the meeting so that time is not wasted while the attorney is sitting there.  

4. Show up to court or other proceedings on time—or early.  It seems like a simple thing, but a lot of time is wasted when a client is late.  Not only is your attorney sitting there idle waiting for you, but your case is likely to be bumped to the end of the judge’s docket.  It is best to know where you’re going and plan for hiccups to make sure you’re on time.

5. Be responsive.  If your attorney or even your wife’s attorney has asked for information, it is best to respond as timely as possible.  Causing your lawyer to follow up on requested information, or not meeting a deadline for responding to document requests from the other side, will cause you unnecessary attorney time and expense.

6. Keep your own litigation binder/file.  Having all of your court documents and correspondence in a 3 ring binder or scanned document file will save you the time and expense of getting additional copies from your attorney, and remind you of deadlines in your case.

7. Follow your attorney’s advice.  You are paying for the advice of your professional.  Have confidence when they advise against an action which will lead to an otherwise avoidable court appearance.  

8. And finally, don’t let principle get in the way of principal.  While we certainly appreciate the sentiment of “I’d rather pay you than that so and so ex- of mine,” be sure and use your better judgment.  

About ADAM (American Divorce Association for Men)

The American Divorce Association for Men (ADAM) is a group of highly qualified attorneys who advocate for men’s rights in divorce, child custody and parenting time, paternity, support, property settlement, post judgment modifications, and other family law matters. Since 1988, ADAM has been aggressive, diligent, and uncompromising when representing their clients. A team of compassionate and skilled family law attorneys, ADAM is dedicated to being Michigan’s leading divorce attorneys for men.

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