One of the most expensive documents your attorney will draft at the onset of a litigation case is a “demand” letter. This letter requires the attorney to understand the sequence of events and transactions in your matter, as well as incorporating language that will accurately convey your claim(s) against the opposing party; however, an attorney is not required to draft or sign it. You could do the same if you understood legal language and the format. Depending on the complexity of your matter, a demand letter can take anywhere from 2-6 hours to compose and cost you anywhere from $800 - $6,000 of your retainer. As a Senior Paralegal, I’ve done hundreds, if not thousands, of demand letters over the last 35 years for 1/4th of the cost.
This is where you can save a huge chunk of change.
At the initial filing of a lawsuit, courts require you to complete certain forms. Each court differs in their information requirements and in the number of documents needed. A paralegal is often assigned this task for clients, as it is tedious and time-consuming. Often clients do not want to complete these documents, do no have the software required to easily fill them out, or simply don’t have the time.
One common misconception people have regarding filing lawsuits is that they must be filed by an attorney or that the initial lawsuit must be perfect in order to prevail, or that if the initial filing is wrong, it will cost them a great deal more money. This is not the case (pardon the pun). The filing fee for the 1st filing of the lawsuit is usually the most expensive filing fee in the case, unless an appeal is filed, which is usually very far down the road if at all. It’s important to get it mostly correct, but amended filings (i.e., First Amended Petition) are usually a “no fee document” and, in most jurisdictions, the initial filing can be amended many, many times. An attorney will charge for his time to file your Original Petition or Complaint, in addition to the filing fee and any time for “reviewing” his paralegal/secretary’s work. With the Original Petition, you are double-billed for the paralegal’s time, the attorney’s time to review, and the paralegal’s time to file the document. As a Senior Paralegal, I can draft your document and send it to you for review, set up a free e-file account for your case, then show you very easily how to file on your own. This will also save you thousands of dollars.
Whether decide to hire an attorney at any point in your lawsuit, you will still need a timeline with exhibits that will help you, opposing counsel, and the judge have a bird’s eye view of events that lead to your claim. I have an exceptional software that digitally creates your timeline and can attach relevant documents to each point, which can serve as exhibits in your case. More importantly, if you choose to retain an attorney, this timeline will save you thousands of dollars that any attorney will charge to for an initial case review, which typically runs in the thousands of dollars. This is where a great deal of your retainer is used up in the first month.
This downloadable, short e-book will give you practical hacks I’ve gathered over the years as a Senior Paralegal that, if you follow them, will guarantee you get the best bang for your buck from your attorney and will hold their feet to the fire with your case. The only caveat is that you read and follow the hacks, and that you understand and accept the premise you must be the master of your own case.
Click here for samples of my writing style.