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All too often a party retaining a law firm moves forward with the belief the litigation costs will be minimal because the issues, from the client’s standpoint, are simple, straightforward and should not require a lot of work. Except all too often simplicity is a mirage of a complicated and often times very expensive litigation.
Clients that provide the attorney with a clear road map of what did or did not happen do themselves, their attorneys and their case a great favor. This process is done with the client preparing a written description of the facts as he or she sees the situation. For every point supported by documents, provide those documents. Don’t take this the wrong way, but it is our jobs as attorneys, playing devil’s advocate, to test your story, try to poke holes to test the points raised if for no other reason than to determine the viability and/or liability potentials of your case. We will use your description and supporting documents to do that; don’t let us learn the case from the other side’s attorney.
This process begins before the first meeting with your attorney. Take the time to go through your files and prepare for the meeting just as you would prepare for any other meeting where tens of thousands of your dollars are at stake. And to be clear, this is the money that you could spend on your attorney to gather and review documents in the course of your case if you do not take care of the initial due diligence.
The lesson here: avoid or minimize this cost by doing the necessary legwork. Go through your files and copy (keep a copy of everything) all documents relating to the matter, putting the documents in chronological order to provide to the attorney. Take the time to review your emails, utilizing relevant keyword searches that relate to all aspects of the issue and keep a log of the keyword searches. Put the emails in chronological order and include the complete email string together with any attachments that were included in the message. A key point: it is not your job to decide what is or is not important to a matter. Give the attorney everything, tell the attorney everything.
What will this work do for you? By providing an organized package of documents to your attorney (don’t write on the documents!) with a corresponding description of the facts and circumstances relating to your matter, explaining how the documents relate to the issue at hand, you provide a road map for your attorney to follow and understand your case at a much more cost efficient basis for you. Give your attorney as much ammunition as possible to fight for you.