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10 Ways to Control Your Legal Costs During a Dispute

  1. Be Informed: While your attorney can guide you and answer your questions, there is a wealth of information readily available to you. Read books, explore the Web, review courthouse publications.
  2. Be Organized: Most often, your legal fees are billed by the hour. When you communicate with your attorney, have a list of questions you have accumulated. Take notes and keep all documentation in one place.
  3. Know the Process: The legal process is best used to resolve disputes. Do not use your lawyer as a tool to harm your opponent or to inflict pain. Doing so can be incredibly expensive and damaging to you and your children.
  4. Be a Wise Consumer: Ask questions along the way. Work in a team - oriented approach with your lawyer and their staff.
  5. Cooperate and Be Proactive: Get your attorney the documents she needs in a timely manner. Know your deadlines. Respond quickly and actively to all settlement offers.
  6. Insist on Full Disclosure: You have the right to a thorough explanation of how your legal fees are calculated. Insist on it and, where necessary, ask probing questions.
  7. Review Billing Statements: You should receive thorough and detailed invoices of all your charges on a monthly basis. Review those invoices carefully and ask questions if anything is unclear. Remember, the lawyer works for you, not vice versa.
  8. Know Your Options: Make sure your lawyer seizes every opportunity to settle your case. Explore the options of alternative dispute resolution, such as mediation, arbitration, and settlement conferences.
  9. Track the Action in Your Case: You are entitled to receive copies of every shred of paper that comes in and out of your lawyer's office. Review those documents, and make sure that you and your lawyer are always on the same page in terms of strategy.
  10. Act Dispassionately: Whenever possible let your emotions calm down before taking any actions that could increase the litigation. You can and should think about the big picture and get through the legal process with your dignity, and your wallet, intact.