If you can't answer how quickly you and the opposing side will resolve your differences in court, and therefore, how long your dispute is going to take, a lawyer cannot answer how much her legal fees are going to be. However, this article should help you in this unpredictable process to feel more in control of your legal fees and of the litigation process itself.
Predicting legal fees incurred during litigation is virtually impossible, however it is possible to get a handle on its fees over time. Legal fees depend on four main factors, such as: a) How many issues are presented to the Court and how complex they are; b) How aggressive you are during the litigation process; c) How vigorously the other side is putting forth their agenda in court; and d) Temperament of the judge. As you see, of the four factors, you have control over just one of them- yourself. The other factors will impact the cost of litigation and you won't have control over them.
This lack of control is magnified when clients are unfamiliar with the court system and the litigation process. Therefore, it is best to get acquainted with the litigation process that you will be so inextricably linked with.
For instance, let's assume that the other side has unrealistic expectations and opposing counsel keeps filing, what you think, are frivolous motions in court. Let's also add that the Judge is very lax about your case, and you witness your case continued and not many issues are being resolved within a reasonable time. It is six months later and the issues did not diminish, in fact, it appears that there are even more problems that surfaced.
How to get a grip on finances in such a chaotic litigation climate?
This is where your own lawyer's role comes in. The type of relationship you develop with your own lawyer is very important and will dictate how sane you will remain during the insane litigation process.
Imagine the confluence of the following factors:
- You keep in close contact with your lawyer.
- You and your lawyer discuss your limits emotionally and financially.
- You and your lawyer devise a strategy plan for your case on a global scale as well as for the immediate future, as in: "What are we doing next and why?"
- Your lawyer responds to your questions quickly, with respect and takes her time explaining what any of the court filings mean, how they impact your position in the case, all communicated in words that you can understand.
- You and your lawyer observe the Judge's rulings over time and you are better positioned to evaluate whether you should proceed with your original strategy, or whether you should alter it based on the Judge's prior rulings.
- You learn that you have to budget not only for your own litigation strategy but also for your lawyer to respond to the other side's requests.
Once you develop a comfortable communication level with your lawyer you will become familiar with the litigation process, the process that is at time counterintuitive. You will have a sense of control over finances when you begin to understand the litigation process. At a minimum, you will not be shocked when you receive that dreadful legal bill.