There is never a good time to waste money, but that is more true now than ever. We understand that attorneys are expensive, but there are several tips you can use to pay less. Here are our top 6:
Tip # 1: There is nearly always more than one firm that can handle your legal matter. We know that the process of finding an attorney can seem difficult and confusing. You may just be grateful that someone picked up the phone. Don’t stop there. There are likely other firms looking for your business. That brings us to tip #2.
Tip # 2: Ask for a free initial consultation. Gone are the days of paying for initial consultations with attorneys. With several firms competing for your business, there should be one or more willing to give you a free initial consultation. Paying upwards of $150+ just to speak to someone about the facts of your case is unnecessary.
Tip # 3: On the first call, ask for the attorney’s hourly rate. Most civil and family law matters are billed on an hourly basis. Asking for the hourly rate immediately allows you to call around to more than one firm before setting up a meeting, and get an idea of fair pricing. Some firms will offer up excuses not to give you an hourly rate. They know what they charge, so don’t buy it. If they are unwilling to give you an hourly price range, be mindful that you may end up overpaying. Try the next firm on the list.
Tip # 4: Ask if your retainer is refundable! Believe it or not, there are firms that include language in their retainer agreements that fees are “nonrefundable,” also sometimes called “earned on receipt,” meaning that once you give them your money, it is gone. You may decide not to proceed with your case; for example, in a divorce, you and your spouse may reconcile. All or part of retainer should be refundable at any time that the firm no longer represents you, and any fees earned by the firm should be for work actually done on your file. Do not accept anything less. That brings us to tip #5.
Tip # 5: Expect detailed billing statements. Sometimes attorneys will use vague phrases, such as “Phone Call” or “Legal Research” on their billing statements. If you are paying thousands of dollars for their time and expertise, then an attorney should be more than able to tell you whom they spoke with or what they researched. If an attorney is unable or unwilling to tell you these and similar details, that is a red flag.
Tip # 6: Don’t be afraid to walk away. There are several stages to starting a relationship with a law firm. These include the first phone call, the initial consultation, retaining the firm, and representation. The law allows you to walk away at any time that you feel uncomfortable, financially or otherwise, with the representation. If this worries you, look back at tip #1.
All of these tips combined could save you thousands of dollars in legal fees. At Skala Miller, these are not just tips. These are our standard beliefs and practices, and reflective of the honesty and service that we believe are owed to all clients and prospective clients. If you are looking for representation, contact our office below.