Lower attorney fees Indianapolis

Tips for Clients: How to Keep Fees Down on an Hourly Case

Lower attorney fees Indianapolis

Lawyers are often paid for their services on an hourly basis. The typical hourly rates in Indiana range from $250-$450 per hour. An attorney’s rate is based on the attorney’s past experience, the number of years spent practicing law, and the area of law. In essence, under an hourly fee agreement, for every hour an attorney spends working on your legal matter, you will be billed at that attorney’s hourly rate.

As attorneys, we understand that legal fees significantly impact clients’ monthly budgets and that clients want to be mindful of the work they are paying their attorneys to perform. For this reason, we have compiled some tips to help you keep your legal fees down.

Efficient and focused communications – We understand that having a pending legal matter is stressful. We also understand that you want to ensure that you pass along all information that may be helpful for your case. As attorneys, we like to know all pertinent information because it allows us to fully understand and appreciate your situation and to provide you with the best plan and strategy moving forward. That said, focused communication efforts can greatly help to significantly reduce your monthly legal bill.

Rather than sending your attorney 5-10 emails—each containing one or two random tidbits of information—compile all those tidbits into one document or email and send them all at once. The same is also true of telephone calls with your attorney. If you pick up the phone every time you have a legal question, you will be billed each time you speak with your attorney. However, if you compile a list of issues or questions and make one call to address all of them at once, your efficiency will save you from being billed for multiple calls.

We recommend keeping one notebook or document on your computer where you record all your questions, key pieces of information, and random thoughts or issues. Once you have compiled enough of them to warrant an email or call—send an email or schedule a call! This will allow you and your attorney to exchange and discuss all pertinent facts without incurring at least one tenth of an hour (.1) at the attorney’s hourly rate each time you interact with him or her. At a billing rate of $300 per hour, that means every six minutes you spend communicating with your attorney, sending an email, or leaving a voicemail, it will cost you a minimum of $30. In sum,  more time spent = more fees billed. For this reason, the 5-10 calls you make, and the multiple emails you send back and forth all tend to add up quickly. There are times when “extra” time must be spent discussing a particular issue or the specifics of your case—and we always want to provide you with sufficient time in those circumstances—but your general communication style and how effectively and efficiently you communicate with your attorney will greatly impact your monthly bill.

Help us when we ask for help. There will be critical times during your case when your attorney will ask you to assist with things such as answering written questions, providing/compiling/and/or organizing pertinent documentation, helping to identify key issues, or calculating your damages. Please know that when we ask you for help—we really need it!  And, as an added bonus, the more time that you spend actively assisting us with these types of tasks, the less time your attorney will have to spend on them and the less you will be billed. Also, please respond in a timely manner. Time spent following up with reminders to you is legitimately billable time, but should not be necessary. Filing late responses to discovery can also makes us look weak or uncommitted to your case in the eyes of a judge or the opposing counsel.  We never want to be in that position, so please respond promptly to our requests for assistance.

One of the common things we hear clients say is “Well, I hired an attorney so I wouldn’t have to deal with this – can’t you just do that for me?” That is a loaded question. While you did hire an attorney to assist you, some tasks require your active participation and input. There are times when you will need to answer written questions under oath. While there are many things that we can assist you with, we cannot answer questions under oath for you, just like we can’t take the stand for you at trial.

Other times, you are the one who knows your case best, including the nature of your business/issues/damages, the history between the parties, and other factual specifics related to the nuances of your case. Your attorney does not know the nuances and specifics of your case —at least not on the front end—whether it is key details about construction work performed, information regarding a home, damages you have incurred, past events or history between the parties, issues involving your ex, or other specific particularities of your case. The attorney didn’t live through it —you did! The more information you share with your attorney, and the way in which you choose to communicate with your attorney, will help minimize your fees.  When asked to do so, jump in and provide the requested information, then gather, compile, and organize documents related to key issues in your case. This saves your attorney time which in turn saves you money. Below is an example of the difference in billing based on communication styles:

Unfocused communication:

Call to attorney with one question – .25
Call to attorney with one question – .25
Call to attorney with one question – .25
Call to attorney about one issue – .25
Call to attorney with more details – .25
Email to attorney with a question – .10
Email to attorney with details following call – .25
Attorney’s review of details1.6 hours                         


Focused communication:

Call to attorney to discuss all the issues/questions above – .50
Email to attorney with details following call – .25
Attorney’s review of details.75 hours

This example illustrates the difference in billing based upon two different communication styles—unfocused communication versus focused communication. While we are happy to “do” the work and speak with and email our clients anytime they need us or have questions, we must charge for the time spent. The more you help us—especially when we ask you to, and the more focused and efficiently you do it—the more it will help you to keep your legal fees under control.

Organization is crucial. There are times when we must rely upon our clients to provide us with documentation related to their claims. When this happens, the time you spend compiling, reviewing, and organizing documents will save your attorney time, and in turn, reduce your legal fees.

When you are assisting your attorney with pulling key documents, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Pull any duplicate documents from what you are providing.
  • Place the documents in chronological order or any other logical order.
  • Provide all helpful information to your attorney to better assist with understanding the documentation you are providing and include all necessary details on the issues involved.
  • Provide a brief, written summary or prepare a list regarding key points to help your attorney more quickly develop an overview. This will help to focus your attorney’s efforts and expectations for the material you provide before your attorney or paralegal digs in to review it.

While your attorney can—and will—review everything you provide, avoid duplicates and organize it in the best way possible, so as to minimize the time needed for initial review. Your legwork and organization of documentation on the front end will help your attorney to hone in on the issues, rather than expend significant time working just to organize what you provided.

In the words of Jerry Maguire—“help us to help you.” It is always our goal to provide our clients with a positive experience, so they will walk away satisfied at the conclusion of their legal matters.

We are all in this together.

Contact us today!

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