8 Tips on Saving Legal Fees

by Ervin Cohen & Jessup LLP

Today’s Take: 8 Tips on Saving Legal Fees

If you’re a client and you want to keep your legal fees down—and don’t you all—here are some tips for you (negotiating the fee arrangement aside):

  1. When your lawyer asks a question or makes an inquiry, answer promptly and fully.  It may be true that you sent him/her some documents a month ago telling him how to obtain the information, or even containing it.  But answer anyway.  Otherwise, the lawyer will have to spend time looking through the file to find the documents—and guess who’ll be charged for that?
  2. Prepare for meetings and conference calls.  If you’re the one who has asked for the call or meeting, prepare an agenda and circulate it in advance; if it’s the lawyer who wants it, have him/her do it.  Review the documents or communications you believe will be discussed, and have the lawyer do likewise.  There’s nothing like fumbling around on a conference call while either or both of you are looking for something and having to read it while everyone else is mute or reading it themselves.
  3. After a meeting, have the results documented and circulated, including the action items identified and by whom and when those items are to be done.  Not only will this eliminate confusion and loss of memory issues, but it will give you a chance to look at the results with a fresh eye.  Who know—you may want to change something in some way!
  4. Save up your calls!  You are highly likely to pay more if you call your lawyer 5 times a week for 5-10 minutes each rather than once a week for 30-40 minutes.  Some law firms have a minimum 0.2 hour charge for phone calls (by the way, ECJ is not one of them), and you really don’t need to exchange pleasantries multiple times in a week.  Besides, by saving up for one call rather than just reaching for the phone when a question pops up, you will have the opportunity to think and prepare for the call.  If you’re the type of client who likes a report on what’s going on in your matter, even if the response is “nothing”, then schedule the call on a regular periodic basis.
  5. If you are a business, try to have one person, or one small group of people, who are the interface with the lawyer.  That makes the lawyer’s job easier and more efficient and minimizes potential misunderstandings (different messages heard) at your end.  You should control your internal communications.  When a decision needs to be made, have the necessary decision-makers in the meeting or on the phone; don’t make the lawyer have to hunt for them and poll them.
  6. Before you engage a lawyer, make sure he/she gives you a clear understanding of the sorts of things that are likely to occur in the matter that will cost you money.  This has particular significance in litigation matters, where clients not used to litigating need help in understanding the process and the associated costs.  Litigation is almost always expensive—your lawyer can and should explain why—but there are choices you can make to keep costs down, so long as you understand the impact of your choosing to do or not to do something and are willing to receive the lawyer’s obligatory CYA letter or email (“At your instruction, I will not take the deposition of the out-of-state witnesses”, etc.)
  7. At the outset, communicate to your lawyer the result you want or expect to achieve, and do it in writing as well.  You can then discuss with the lawyer the best and most cost-efficient ways of getting to the desired end.  If it’s documenting a business deal, don’t make the lawyer try to figure out what the deal is or should be; that just costs you more money.  You are the client, and it’s your deal; take ownership of it and let the lawyer be your instrument, not the decision-maker.  If it’s a litigation matter, discuss whether early settlement is a viable option in light of what the expected cost is relative to what’s at stake.
  8. If you get a bill and have a question, raise it promptly.  It will be harder to get the charge reduced or removed if you do nothing for months, and it really will deprive the lawyer of a fair opportunity to respond to your inquiry completely and accurately.

Today’s Taste:

Since we’re talking about reducing cost, let’s go with a 2007 Foxglove Zinfandel, only $13.99 per 750 ml bottle.  A mix of Zinfandel grapes with 14% Petite Syrah, this wine from the Paso Robles region in California has a wild berry fruit flavor and a bit of a tang.  It was rated 90 points by Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate.  A veritable bargain!

On Writs and Wine is the blog of ECJ’s Litigation Department, featuring our takes on a variety of litigation-related issues, plus a wine recommendation for your palate’s delight.  Your feedback—on both the takes and the wine—is much appreciated.  Enjoy!

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Ervin Cohen & Jessup LLP | Attorney Advertising

Written by:

Ervin Cohen & Jessup LLP

Ervin Cohen & Jessup LLP on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Custom Email Digest
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.


JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at info@jdsupra.com. In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at: info@jdsupra.com.

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.