Top tips for a cost effective divorce
I recently wrote to a client at the end of the case I was advising on. I was passing her to a colleague to do some commercial work. I advised her to be very focused in her communication, making sure that it was relevant to the matter in hand because of the cost implications.
My client is quite astute and in her email back to me told me that I had made her laugh because, 'in your very professional way you are telling me to stop waffling.' And she was right, I was! Lovely though she is, she did have a tendency to talk about all sorts of things rather than the matter in hand.
The same day I amended a client's financial disclosure form for the umpteenth time, adding information which could have been provided weeks before and amending things which had been in the first draft. In her email, the client had commented upon the costs of the case.
Both of these clients made me think about issues which affect cost and that there are ways in which clients can help to manage the costs in their case.
Here are my top five tips:
- Be organised. Send everything which is asked for; 12 months bank statements on all accounts means exactly that! Try and send everything together rather than in dribs and drabs. This can be important for financial disclosure. The best clients send an indexed file of papers containing just the information requested. Also send it on time because the more we have to remind and chase, the more it will cost.
- Pay attention to detail. When a draft is sent through, read it thoroughly and read it again. Try and pick up on all of the changes which need to be made the first time because constant revisions to documents can be time consuming. It is more economic to make all amendments at once. Make sure any document is accurate and represents your position. Sometimes we misunderstand what has been said so please check a statement or figures thoroughly. Changing your position later can affect your credibility.
- Don't waffle! Focus on the issues which are relevant to your case and the question which you are being asked and provide relevant information. Remember what the case is about and give the detail linked to those issues. Sometimes there are things which are important to you but may not have any bearing on the outcome and your Solicitor should guide you. Sending copies of diary entries, screenshots of text messages and email trails may not progress your case but will take time for your solicitor read and that costs you money. Therefore check if they need to see them.
- Talk to your solicitor. Email ping-pong can get expensive and questions going backwards and forwards soon add up. It can be good to email the query initially because sometimes thinking time is needed or your solicitor will need to look something up but try suggesting a time when you will be free to discuss the issue. Scheduling a call is really helpful and all of the questions which arise can be dealt with at one time and often more cost effectively.
- Be clear. Take time to think about what you want, the options available and the advice which you are receiving and give clear instructions. Your solicitor needs to know how you would like them to take matters forward for you so consider it fully. Also be clear on complex issues such as the structure of a business, ownership of assets or the pattern of child arrangements. Sometimes we need clients to make things very simple for us so that we understand the background and don't have to keep asking questions. You of course have lived this, we are coming to it afresh.
The key is to work with your solicitor so that they can try and get the best outcome for you. They in turn should be organised, telling you what they need, why it is required and the time when it is needed. We appreciate that clients wish matters to be dealt with cost effectively so do consider things which you can do to allow your case to be managed as efficiently as possible.
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