Sunday, May 1, 2016

The Hidden Costs of Cheap Legal Fees

When you're looking for an attorney to hire, you're probably doing doing a balancing act.  You want to get the best possible attorney, but many people are concerned about keeping the attorney's fees as low as possible.

To complicate matters, there's not always a direct correlation between higher fees and quality of attorney.  Most often, more experienced attorneys charge more and probably do a better job than less experienced attorneys. But, that's not always the case.

When you're choosing an attorney, you have to find the right combination of experience and affordability.  Chemistry is probably the key to focus on.  Make sure, regardless of the cost, that the attorney makes you feel like there's a good fit.

For those who focus almost exclusively on paying the lowest attorney's fees, here are some thoughts to consider.

1.  You're going to end up with a much less experienced attorney.  Now, you may get an attorney who has adequate experience for your needs, and that's what you should aim for. A lack of experience may translate into missed opportunities for settlement or for new approaches.

2.  Watch out for a high-volume practice.  If your attorney charges  very low fees because he or she handles a high volume of cases, you are probably not going to get much attention.  You may be adequately represented, but you may well feel very uncomfortable with the lack of contact with the attorney. You will be one of many clients. 

3.  You may end up with standardized or guideline orders.  Your case might benefit from personal attention and extra preparation, but you're not likely to get them from a low-cost attorney.

4.  There may be a turnover in attorneys and staff in a low-cost law firm.  If they aren't charging clients much, they usually don't pay their attorneys and staff much, so there's frequent turnover as employees look for better-paying jobs.

5.  You're probably just paying for minimum efforts.  Low pay = low effort.  If your case has some unique details (and whose doesn't?), you may not get your needs met.

Think hard and pay attention to the chemistry between you and any prospective attorney.  Money is a realistic consideration in hiring an attorney, but don't let it be the only one.