Guest post by Bruce Cameron
Be complete and candid with your lawyer
A cost-effective relationship with your lawyer starts by giving your lawyer complete and candid information about your matter (yes, that includes the trivial, the embarrassing, and the seemingly unimportant). Only by knowing all the facts of your matter can your lawyer determine the range of your legal options and advise you on your best courses of action. Think of it this way – if you were to go to your doctor complaining about chronic headaches, your doctor might suggest tests to rule out everything from cancer to migraines, but if you were to complain about headaches and mention that the print on your CRT seems fuzzier than usual, your doctor may suggest a simple eye test and perhaps a new pair of glasses. Facts matter, forgetting to mention a fact can cost you a bundle.
Keep your lawyer informed
Complete and candid disclosure doesn’t end when you walk out of that first meeting with your lawyer. Keeping your attorney informed of information and documents that might affect your matter, or telling him when things change (like your address, number, or place of employment) is not only vital, but it can save you money.
Sure, your matter can change without warning and the occasional emergency is to be expected. But generally it is far more cost effective for you to keep your attorney abreast of the changes in your life that relate to your case than it is to pay your attorney to track them all down.
If you really want to save on legal fees and could only do one thing, then be prepared every time you talk with your lawyer. Organize your materials and information before you talk with your attorney. Prepare a written summary or detailed notes that outline your problems and questions. Depending on the case or legal matter, a summary should include the names, addresses and numbers of anyone involved in your matter. If your attorney asks you to gather information about your case, do so promptly. Remember to bring relevant documents to each meeting and be prompt for all appointments. Be as brief as possible in all interviews and stick to business (socializing gets expensive if you are paying an attorney by the hour).
Bruce Cameron is a Minnesota estate planning and collaborative family law attorney, and he’s also the author of Rural Lawyer and the new book, Becoming a Rural Lawyer.
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