Getting The Most Bang For Your Legal Buck
Summary: Make sure you get the most value from the money you spend on legal fees
Getting The Most From Your Legal Buck
Attorneys are expensive; typical fees range from $300.00-400.00 per hour, and even higher for sophisticated matters.
It's also no secret that there is a tremendous level of dissatisfaction with the legal profession. My own two children have told me more lawyer jokes than I care to hear.
At the same time, competition among attorneys for clients is getting fierce. There is roughly one attorney for each 230 people in California, and large and small law firms alike are closing due to lack of business, particularly in light of the current economy.
Attorneys provide a service. As with almost every other service business, informed consumers can do a lot to help insure that they get what they pay for. Here are a few tips to use when looking for a new attorney:
· Lawyer referral services will provide you with the names of several attorneys who handle your type of case. Call the Los Angeles County Bar at (213) 243-1525 or the San Fernando Valley Bar at 818-340-4529.
· Call several attorneys and ask questions of each one. If possible, ask to speak directly to the attorney rather than a legal assistant or secretary. Question the attorney on the phone about their areas of expertise before you tell them what kind of case you have. Find out how many of your type of cases they have handled in the past and make sure you determine the hourly rate before making an appointment. Also, ask if you'll be billed for the first consultation and what the charge will be. If you are not satisfied with the answers you receive, call another attorney; don't make an appointment if you have doubts.
· Make certain you are completely comfortable with the attorney at the end of the first meeting. The relationship between a client and attorney is highly personal in nature and you'll be working closely together for the duration of your case. You can't tell if the attorney will do a good job for you from one meeting, but if you don't have a good feeling from that first meeting make an appointment with someone else.
· Make sure you read the Attorney Fee Agreement carefully and ask for an explanation of any provisions that are not clear. The agreement should spell out what the hourly or flat fee will be and what the attorney will and won't do for you.
· Demand to be kept informed about the status of your case and to have your phone calls returned. Make sure the attorney will provide you with copies of all important documents in your case. If your particular attorney will be out of the office for extended periods of time, find out in advance who else in the office you can talk to if you have questions.
Most important is to remember that the attorney is working for you!
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