Having more than one person on your legal team may seem like a recipe for
higher legal bills, but a team approach can actually help you keep costs down.
How so? Because it allows for delegation of specific tasks to people most
qualified to complete them – and some tasks just do not need to
be handled by someone who bills at the hourly rate of your attorney of record.
Here are some of the people who can serve on your legal team and help keep
Paralegals and/or Legal Assistants
Paralegals can draft many of the basic documents that are used in divorce
litigation. This includes everything from basic correspondence, discovery
requests, and your final documents. Paralegals can also coordinate meetings,
conference calls, interview potential witnesses, conduct research and
be your point of contact with your attorney – all at a significantly
lower hourly rate than your attorney.
If your law firm employs a legal intern, he or she can be tasked with conducting
legal research relevant to the specific issues in your case, reviewing
a file from past litigation, and a wide variety of other research-related
functions. In addition, depending on their qualification, legal interns
in some jurisdictions can also appear in court for uncontested or administrative hearings.
There are innumerable reasons why you hired your highly experienced partner-level
or senior associate divorce attorney. He or she has the experience, knowledge,
and professionalism necessary to optimize your potential for a great result,
as well as a formidable reputation in the legal community.
However, there are many aspects of your case that can be delegated to a
highly competent associate attorney who will work in conjunction with
the more experienced attorney throughout your case. Associate attorneys
bill at a lower hourly rate than senior associate or partner-level attorneys,
and can complete many tasks as efficiently and competently as your more
expensive attorney. Higher level tasks may be delegated in part to an
associate, and then completed by the more experienced attorney, thus dividing
up the time between a lower and a highly billing attorney, based on the
complexity of the work involved.
Outside Experts and Professionals
When people hear the word “expert” they often think they are
in for significant expense. After all, aren’t “experts”
in high demand and therefore charging top dollar for their services? Whether
or not that is the case for a given expert, the reality is that your attorney
has been trained in the law, and not in tax/estate planning, pension valuation,
psychology, or other areas that may be at issue in your case. Even if
an expert may come up with a price tag that seems high, the expert can
serve a valuable role in your case and ultimately save you time and money
by assisting your attorney in understanding complex financial, tax, or
In short, while it may be easy to assume that the more people who work
on your case, the more money you will spend, the reality is that having
a team of professionals available to perform tasks at each professional’s
skill level can go a long way towards reducing fees over time.
For more tips on how to lower your legal bills, check out our
10 Tips for a Low Cost Divorce.