Getting the Most From Your Attorney

First of all and most importantly, always keep in mind that attorneys charge for our time.  It could be time spent reading e-mails, speaking on the phone or representing our clients in court.  If you are mindful of how much time we might need to spend on a task, you might be able to save money. Here are some suggestions:

Do what we ask the first time we ask you.  We know it sounds crass but we spend a lot of time following up to get information  from our clients.  Providing the information the first time requested, saves us time which saves you money.

Do it in the manner in which we ask you.  For example, every time we go to court, we need to provide an updated financial form.  We ask our clients to cross out the old information and write in updated information on financial statements.  By retyping or submitting forms without the prior information, we lose needed information..  If we ask you to provide information in a certain manner, there is usually a reason for it.

Write to us.  We read faster than we speak so email or letters are better for communicating information.  Since it saves us time, it is another way to save you money and to be more effective in your case.

Organize your own discovery responses. When the documents come to us in date order, well labeled and organized, this saves us time in organizing and trying to understand the full picture.  By taking the time to present us with your responses in an organized fashion, we can move your case forward easier and faster.

Organize your own file for your family law matter.  During the divorce process, there will be times when you need documents and information multiple times.  In particular, you will need your financial statement repeatedly. Keep a copy of your financial statement readily available as you will need to update it from time to time during the process.

Ask your lawyer for information ONCE.  If you keep an organized family law file so you can access it easily, you will not incur the charges of asking your attorney multiple times for the same item.

Keep a notebook of important information relevant to your case.  Use as much detail as you can such as dates, times, and places.  Memories are affected by stress and passing time.

Work with your soon to be ex to create packages for both parties.  The court rules require mandatory discovery including three years of tax returns and account statements.  These are often the same documents for both parties.  Why not work together to provide mirror image packages to your attorneys for joint accounts and tax returns?  If the parties can work cooperatively, this can be expanded upon.  It saves time and builds trust thereby enhancing the atmosphere of full disclosure in order to move to a resolution.

Be as thorough as you can.  Family law matters require full financial disclosure.  By providing complete information to the other side at the onset , you save time and build trust.  By eliminating the need to seek information from outside sources, we can move quickly to a reasonably negotiated settlement.

Listen to your attorney’s advice.  We are partners with our clients and we listen to you.  Often lawyers counsel clients to act in a way that will help their divorce run smoother.  Listen and follow this advice.  For example, if you are in a new relationship, we may recommend that you continue to live separate.  Also, there may be advantages or disadvantages in taking money from your parents. When we give you advice, please follow it.  We give you advice for particular reasons that can save you distress while settling your case.

Try to resolve some of your own issues.  Unless you have a house full of valuable antiques and original artwork, you really don’t want to pay your lawyer to divide your home furnishings.

Consider the cost and benefit of fighting for a particular provision.  Some principles are worth fighting for.  Others might really come down to a cost benefit analysis and might not really be a matter of principle.

Consider counseling.  While we do our best to represent our clients in a caring manner and acknowledge the human experience in this legal problem, we are lawyers and not therapists.  Our time is best spent protecting your rights.  Clients usually need to have someone to help them handle the emotional side of divorce.   This is particularly important when there are children involved.  We recommend that you find a therapist that can help with the emotional stress of divorce.

Contact the Law Offices of Lisa J. Graff for a confidential consultation. We’re located in Sudbury, Metro West Boston, Massachusetts and service the following counties: Middlesex, Worcester, Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex, Plymouth and Bristol Counties.