I’ve practiced law for nearly a decade and I’m still stunned by what some lawyers charge for their services.
It’s often hard to feel sorry for people stuck with massive legal bills because, in most cases, their predicament could have been easily avoided.
Here are just a few simple tips that could save you thousands of the dollars the next time you hire a lawyer.
Ask for a Price or Estimate Upfront
Bluntly ask the attorney “What will I pay for your services?”
If he can’t give you at least a rough estimate of the expenses, then you should move on to the next lawyer.
Of course, the lawyer’s ability to give you an estimate will vary depending on the type of legal matter involved.
For example, it would be relatively easy to give a price quote for drafting an estate plan or handling a real estate transaction.
On the other hand, a lawsuit or a divorce could settle within a few months or drag on for years. Therefore, it may be much more difficult for the attorney to give you an estimate of expenses.
Nevertheless, no matter what type of legal matter is at issue, your attorney should be able to give you some clue of what the final bill will be.
Speak to Multiple Attorneys
Attorneys’ legal fees vary greatly, even within the same city or town. Therefore, you should speak with at least three or four lawyers before choosing the one who’s right for you.
Ideally, your attorney’s fees will be acceptable and his experience and personality will be suitable to you and to your legal situation.
Get It in Writing
The Massachusetts Rules of Professional Conduct require that most lawyer-client agreements are put in writing.
Rule 1.5(b) states:
the scope of the representation and the basis or rate of the fee and expenses for which the client will be responsible shall be communicated to the client in writing before or within a reasonable time after commencing the representation.
Make sure that your attorney complies with this rule and that you get the cost and scope of legal services put in writing.
If you have any questions please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.