- Develop a clear, written Mission with your attorney. Always know what you are ultimately trying to achieve and make sure every step you take is headed in that direction.
- Request your attorney to estimate costs of actions before they occur and to give you a monthly estimate of what the fees might be for the coming month.
- Suggest that your attorney handle issues in a “collaborative fashion.” For example, instead of fight over issues, agree with the other side to jointly hire experts, such as appraisers, CPA’s, and custody and visitation experts.
- Let the past go. The more you treat the divorce as a business negotiation, the fewer emotional issues will cause cost increases.
- Tell your attorney you do not want a copy of everything that comes in or goes out of his office. Ask for only the most important documents.
- If documents need to be copied, copy them yourself.
- Don’t call you attorney unless it is absolutely necessary and keep the calls short.
- Don’t call your attorney about matters that should be discussed with your therapist.
- Suggest that your attorney tape record or video non-critical depositions in order to save reporter fees.
- Don’t ask your attorney to subpoena unnecessary witnesses or documents.
- Communicate by email.
- Do record searches, such as corporate searches or deed searches yourself.
- Ask your attorney not to engage in letter writing battles with opposing counsel.
- Ask your attorney about mediation and when and how it can be used to bring your case to conclusion.
Caveat: Always be careful with attempts to cut costs. Make sure with your attorney that an effort to save a cost won’t be detrimental to your case.
Mark Chinn is a divorce lawyer and the founder of the family-law firm Chinn & Associates in Jackson County, Mississippi. This answer has been excerpted from The Constructive Divorce Guidebook (ABA Books, 2007).