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How Much Will My Case Cost?

This is a common question all clients ask but I don’t think we’ve ever answered this question on our blog. Fees vary greatly from $500 up to $100,000. Similar cases with similar situations have also varied greatly with one client spending $2,500 and the other $30,000 for the same outcome. How can that be?

These are the most common factors that impact how much you pay your attorney:

  1. Unreasonable party—one or both sides;
  2. Untested or legitimate legal issue;
  3. Attorney not giving client realistic expectations or unreasonable attorney more interested in billing than helping the family transition and move forward; and
  4. Clients with lots of retirement, real estate, and/or business assets to divide.

I have some clients that come in and want to try to help reduce legal fees. How can you reduce your legal fees?

  1. Be in control of your own case. Never say “I’m leaving that up to my attorney or I’ll do whatever my attorney tells me to do.” This is foolish and sends the signal that you will allow your attorney to bill whatever, whenever until you no longer have any money to pay him or her.
  2. Provide all documents requested to your attorney immediately. Don’t make your attorney ask you twice for the same information.
  3. When you provide your documents provide them all at once and already organized for your attorney. Put all your documents in a binder, label the documents so I know what I’m looking at and have some sense of order with the documents provided (bank statements in chronological order). Providing documents one at a time (you just sent me 10 separate emails), documents that do not identify what I am looking at, or incomplete documents are frustrating for me and cost you more.
  4. Put all your questions in one email and only email your attorney once a week instead of several times per day.
  5. Schedule an appointment with your attorney if you have lots of questions so that you can really understand what’s going on while spending less money. Those appointments can often be cheaper than multiple emails and phone calls where you still aren’t quite sure you understand what’s going on.
  6. Push for mediation and/or settlement meetings as much as possible.
  7. Think of it like a business transaction. Offer. Rejection. Counter Offer. Keeping making offers and counter offers until you can get somewhere reasonable.
  8. Ask your attorney straight up—Am I being reasonable? Are my expectations for settlement within the ballpark of what the judge would do if the judge were deciding my case? How can I be more reasonable? How can I get out of this cheaper? If you don’t ask you don’t know and these are all questions you should be asking your attorney as you move through the process.