By, Ky Hampton.
While most of our posts are written by lawyers, we thought we would take a break from legal talk and focus on some practical ways to save money if you are in a position where you have to hire a lawyer to help with your divorce or other family law matter. Ky Hampton has a unique position at our firm – in that she manages client communications and billing while also interfacing with lawyers and keeping their calendars up to date. Since she creates and reviews invoices each month AND gets to know each client individually, she has counseled many people on how to get the most out of their attorney — and how to keep their case as cost effective as possible:
Divorce can be stressful enough without the additional burden of being expensive too, but divorces don’t have to break the bank. There are a few small things you could do to keep costs down which may also relieve some stress in the process.
1. Limit Emails: Multiple emails are hard to keep track of and keep up with. When sending emails I recommend consolidating all of your thoughts and questions into one email. This is not to discourage you from sending emails altogether, but when sending an email include as much information into one email as you possibly can. If you know that you may have a lot of questions, thoughts, or ideas it may be helpful to create a section in the notes app on your phone to jot down things as they come up and at the end of the day, email everything that you have written in your notes. One email per day to your lawyer or divorce coach should be sufficient. While I know, you can get antsy waiting on a response or waiting on an endorsed copy of a document from court, try to avoid sending emails to “check-in” or check on the status of something, your attorney will notify you if anything comes up.
2. Limit Calls: Much like emails, multiple calls are hard to keep up with and should be limited when they can be. Calls are very useful especially when trying to explain or better understand something that is complex or complicated. With calls it is best to have a list of questions or thoughts you would like to share that you can reference during your call with your attorney or lawyer, this will also help you to stay on track.
3. Take Advantage of Practice Management Systems or Applications: Many Family Law attorney’s use apps or cloud based web platforms to streamline, organize and create tasks for your case. Applications such as My Case or Clio give clients the opportunity to review their forms and invoices, upload important documentation, schedule meetings with their attorney, message their lawyer or comment on a document, and review correspondence sent to and from the opposing attorney or party. The more you use these resources, the less likely you will need periodic ‘check in’ calls. You will also feel a whole lot more in control of your case.
4. Trust your Attorney: I cannot stress this enough; your attorney is very experienced and well versed in all things relating to divorce. After all, this is their specialty and why you hired them in the first place. After something has been drafted and is being given to you to review, try to avoid making copious suggestions, adjustments, or modifications unless you strongly believe that this change is absolutely necessary and vital. While a change might be small to you, it may take a lot of time to add your change and make sure that it flows and matches the overall tone.
5. TMI (Too Much Information) is Actually Good: When your attorney asks you to fill out an intake packet, how much you contributed to community property/assets, or asks you about the amount of time you spend with your child(ren) the more specific and accurate you are will not only save your attorney time, but also save you money. As mundane as it may seem, all of this information is very important down to the penny or the minute. When filling out an intake packet or financial intake packet it is necessary to be as thorough as you can be. Even if you feel that your answers are repetitive, insignificant, or mundane they are not and they are extremely helpful. If your attorney has to constantly ask you to clarify or be more specific this will add up in the end. Your attorney can do a lot more with too much information than they can with not enough. Here, more is more.