Lawyers are expensive, but Held Law Firm does our best to prepare clients for what to expect in terms of cost. Here’s how we calculate the amount of money necessary to handle your case, and some tips to save money on your legal bill.
What impacts the cost of litigation?
- Court costs and filing fees. Filing fees run $200-$400, depending on the court. While you might be able to shift costs to the other side, to be safe, budget around $1,000 for court costs.
- How hard the other side fights. Every time your lawyer has to go to court, you should budget $2,000 for them to prepare and attend in Knox County Fourth Circuit Court; or about $1,500 in other courts.
- Whether their lawyer is honest, competent, and willing to work. If so, it will cut the cost of the lawsuit by about half. If their lawyer is dishonest, incompetent, or lazy, it will double the cost, because you’ll have to pay your lawyer to keep them honest, do their job for them, and chase them around.
- Your goals. The more ambitious your goals are, the longer it will take to reach them and the more it will cost.
- How “hands on” you want to be. The more involved you want to be in your case, and the more questions you have about the process, the more it will cost. We always appreciate your input, and in fact, we need it when something big happens so we can best represent your interests. But sometimes, we need you to trust that we know what we’re doing. We promise to keep you updated!
- How much leg work you can do. The more evidence you collect, the less litigation will cost. For example, it does take you some time to collect and bring us your medical records, or your child’s school records, or your latest retirement statement. But if you collect that information, it’s free. On the other hand, if our staff must track those same records down, it takes even longer and adds even more costs. Bringing us the evidence we need saves you money.
- How fast we can move. The less time a case is open, the more money it saves. To keep your case moving quickly, we need access to money easily. For that reason, we tend to charge higher retainers than some other lawyers. However, by moving the case quickly, our attorneys typically save clients’ money by the end of the case.
- Whether you and the other side take your respective lawyers’ advice. If so, it will save you money. Nothing runs up legal fees like being stubborn.
How can you save money?
- If you don’t have one yet, get a cell phone or email address, and check it often. If we can communicate with you quickly, it keeps your case moving and saves time – and in our world, time is money!
- Email us rather than calling when possible. First, you will probably get a quicker response from your attorney because it takes us less time to respond to an email than to return a call. And, if you aren’t available when they try to return your call, they’ve just charged you to leave a message. Emails also memorialize what your attorney said. That way you can refer to it later, and you don’t wind up getting charged for us to answer the same question twice.
- Speaking of emails: try to send several questions in one email. Our lawyers usually automatically charge for 1/10th of an hour (that’s six minutes) to respond to an email, but they generally can’t charge less than that. So, if there are several messages to respond to over the course of a day or week, that can add up. Generally, you will be charged less for one longer email than you would for several short ones
- See if one of our other staff can answer your questions, because they bill at about 1/3 of an attorney’s hourly rate. They can’t give legal advice, but they can almost always answer anything else. For example, they can usually answer questions about when an attorney will be in the office, or about your bill. They often know when your next court date is, whether we’ve received a response from the other side yet, whether something got mailed, etc. If they can help you, take advantage of it.
- Ask your attorney or our paralegals what evidence and documents we need from you, and get them for us. It takes a lot longer for us to get court files, doctor’s reports and school records on your behalf due to privacy laws, but you can usually get them much sooner by requesting them yourself. Just that one step can save the average client several hundred dollars.
- On that note, if we ask you to do something, do it as soon as possible. The longer your file is open, the more things happen, and the more things cost. Our lowest-cost cases have all had one thing in common: our clients got everything to us almost immediately.