You hire a lawyer because you want a lawyer, a specialist in law so to speak. You do not hire a lawyer to be your friend, your accountant, nor your co-conspirator. If you want to keep a good relationship with your attorney, and your costs down, follow these simple rules. Do NOT ask your lawyer these questions:
1. What will this (hourly fee matter) cost? The answer is I don’t know. I have told you when we first contracted what the approximate costs may be, but that is dependent on you and the other party. If you decide to keep calling me every day, your bill will be higher than a more laid back client. Additionally, if you and the other party are constantly trading motions, you bill will be higher. Don’t ask me to make promises.
2. When will we have a court date? Again, I’m not a psychic and I just don’t know. Every court is different and every judge has their own case load. We could luck out and get a cancellation date or we may have to wait until the regular rotation. At any rate, don’t call the office the day the motion was filed and asked for us to make predictions about the Judge’s schedule.
3. When will this be signed? Similar to the last questions, I’m no psychic. A better question is: What is the turn around time in your office or how soon can I expect you to get this filed in court?
4. What is my bill? Unless you have hired a solo attorney with a freakish memory, your lawyer is not likely to know your exact bill at a given moment. In fact, since the billing department probably has sent you 20 copies of the bill, you probably know what it is down to the penny. If you real question is why does this cost so much, you should review your fee agreement and be prepared to ask specific questions about how certain activities are billed.
5. Am I going to win? Well, I hope so because I hate to lose, but I can’t guarantee a result. In fact, I am prohibited from making any such guarantee by the Rules of Professional Conduct. The truth is that if everyone always agreed, we wouldn’t need a court system. I understand that you are anxious, but we have no choice but to trust the process and be as prepared as possible for whatever result.