When it comes to cost, attorneys don't have a reputation of coming cheap, especially when a case is in litigation. But how can you (and your clients) determine if litigation charges are necessary or over the top? Are there specific areas where your practice can improve the value of your services?
Below are five common ways that attorneys waste money.
1. Filing Needless Motions
Pre-trial motions are most always written and filed with the court and can take several weeks or months to be heard and decided. The briefs for the motion can be lengthy, not to mention the time it can take to make court appearances. Usually one appearance is made per motion, but additional appearances can be set by the court as needed.
All too often, these motions serve no strategic or tactical purpose in terms of resolving material issues in a case and they can usually be avoided by counsel working together informally to resolve matters without the court's intervention. Often a ten minute call to the other side's counsel can result in significant savings both in terms of time and money.
2. Too Many Hands on Deck
Why send two lawyers to court, or have two or more attend depositions? Why have younger lawyers draft something that needs to be almost entirely redrafted by a more senior attorney? These work process inefficiencies can be easily avoided, but attorneys aren't usually trained to consider process efficiencies.
There are creative ways to train younger attorneys, if you need to do so, without impacting the efficient litigation of your cases. For one, it may mean you have to set aside your billing expectations for junior attorneys by affording them time to engage in practice-oriented training or in reviewing documents that can help in their development (such as reviewing deposition videos/transcripts or prior motions you've filed).
3. Every Stone Doesn't Need to Be Picked Up and Examined
Cases turn on a very small number of facts and a very limited number of documents. There are always times when people wonder why something happened or didn't, but most of the time, it's just curiosity and not something that needs to be investigated. The desire to know all that is knowable about a case is just not a necessary indulgence in today's world.
4. Picking Needless Fights
Lawyers like to fight about process things--what order things will happen in, or where, or how many. Make a deal and move on. The fights are never worth the effort, and are always very costly.
5. Missing Opportunities for Resolution
Lawyers don't like to appear weak, and they feel that making an overture to settle makes them look that way. That thinking is old school. Smart attorneys settle cases early, before running up a lot of costs.
These are just a few areas to keep in mind when you consider the efficiency of your services.
Law firms can also take additional steps to improve clients' satisfaction with, and understanding of, the value they receive for attorney services. For example, some law firms handle litigation using alternative fee arrangements that create budget certainty for clients and place the focus on generating results, not hours.
There are many ways that law firms can improve on their delivery of value to clients, whether it be in the form of substantive decisions, process improvements, or some other means. Attorneys should always be aware of, and communicate to the client, what makes economic sense for the specific case and the client.
Focus on Getting More Clients Instead of Wasting Your Time and Money
You can't serve clients efficiently if you don't have them knocking at your door in the first place. FindLaw's Integrated Marketing Solutions can help you create a comprehensive plan to target your market audience so that you will have a steady flow of new business.