Divorce and Family law court actions can be expensive. At Henderson Heinrichs, our Vancouver divorce lawyers and family lawyers give you the options you need to lower your account. Here are some tips to making the best use of your money:
- Assistants - Use them
An assistant's hourly rate is far lower than a lawyer's rate. Basically the rule is if you think that you can talk to the lawyer's assistant about it then do that first. They will tell you if they need to consult the lawyer but meanwhile you are racking up the savings. For example, a common reason for people to phone is to book an appointment. This does not normally require a lawyer's time as the lawyer's assistant will generally have access to the lawyer's schedules.
- Lawyer's bill for reading e-mails and listening to voicemails - Where possible collect your thoughts and book an appointment time or send one communication
Generally a lawyer bills for each time that you send them an email or leave them a voicemail. So if you send three emails in one day and one voicemail then you may be being billed for each one individually. If you send one email that is comprehensive it is more likely to be cost effective for you. The rule is collect your thoughts and limit communications if possible. For example, don't play phone tag with a lawyer. If you want to speak to a lawyer and they are not available the less expensive way is to ask to speak to their assistant who may be able to answer your question or make a telephone appointment time to speak to the lawyer about your matter.
- When your lawyer requests that you do something - Please just do it
I cannot begin to explain how much wasted time is spent on 'following up' with clients who do not do the things that lawyers request of them. If a lawyer is requesting that you do something it is because it is in your best interest to do it. As well, lawyers are generally bound by time limitations and so they will need to follow-up with you to ensure that you are meeting the time lines of your litigation. The rule is to try your best to do what your lawyer asks within the time period allotted. If you don't think that it is possible, talk to your lawyer and they may have suggestions on how to get it done sooner or how to deal with the time limits.
- Tell us all the facts up front - Don't hold anything back
In order to do our job effectively we need all the information. We are bound by confidentially so there is no real excuse to not telling us everything. Don't worry we've heard it all before multiple times probably. The worst is when we have to spend time discovering information that you could have provided to us originally. The rule is to speak candidly to your lawyer. It benefits no one for the person who is representing your interests to not have a complete grasp of your needs, wants, etc.
- Organization is key - Keeping it all together
You will discover that a lawyer is all about disclosure in the initial steps of your matter. You have information and we need it. However, it depends on how you give us that information that will make a big difference in the size of your bill at this stage. The rule is keep your material and documents organized. I can say that I have had both extremes of delivery of documents to my office in both an organized file system and also in a pile of non-organized documents. The difference between the two could save you some serious billable hours. Keep in mind as well that the more complete your records the less likely that we will need to 'follow-up' for more documents and information.