Estate Planning, Collaborative Family Law & Mediation

Working With Your Lawyer (Part 3)

Here are the final two tips for having a successful attorney-client relationship:

  • Talk about legal fees and charges at your first visit

Your attorney should talk to your about the cost of representing you at your first meeting.

An attorney cannot always determine exactly what the fees will be because estimating the amount of work involved can be difficult. Attorneys, however, can usually estimate a range of fees for particular work or give you an idea of the issues involved and the time and general cost required.

Attorneys usually charge a fee based on hourly rates, on flat or “fixed” rates, or on contingency. In most cases you will also have to pay legal expenses, such as filing fees, copying costs, long distance telephone charges and legal research fees. Some attorneys may be open to negotiating fees and even monthly payment plans. Whatever you choose, make sure your agreement with your attorney is in writing, and keep a copy of the agreement for your records.

Remember to pay the bills from your attorney on time, as many attorneys will stop working on your behalf if you fail to pay your fees when they are due. Although an attorney must protect a client’s interests, an attorney usually has a right to withdraw from representing a client because of legal bills that have not been paid.

  • Keep your own case file

Keep copies of all agreements, letters, and other documents prepared on your behalf. This can help you understand the progress being made on your case and assist you when you talk to your attorney. Maintaining a separate and organized file of your own will also allow you to review documents with your attorney by telephone or by e-mail, which can save you the time and expense of an office visit.

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