How to Use a Lawyer Efficiently, p. 5


Most lawyers still bill by the hour, so it’s important to have an engagement letter with your lawyer that says what you have to pay per hour. Many states require lawyers to have written engagement letters depending on the circumstances of your matter. You should know if you have to pay your lawyer’s travel time or time spent waiting in court. Your engagement letter should spell out the rates that you will be billed for your lawyer’s young associates if any will work on your matters.

Many lawyers will negotiate alternative billing arrangements, and those may be an opportunity for you to save money. Some will cap the fees for a particular matter or give you reduced hourly rates in return for a guaranteed minimum number of hours of work each month. But, even if you don’t pay your lawyer by the hour, don’t fool yourself that you can afford to waste time. Your lawyer will build in the charges for anticipated wasted hours during the next project.

And don’t spend time worrying about your lawyer as you use him or her more economically. As Lincoln noted, a lawyer who doesn’t waste time will have business enough. 

Many thanks to New York attorneys Miriam V. Gold and Marilyn A. Druck for sharing insights about how they deliver legal services efficiently.

This copyrighted article is intended to help make you aware of some of the issues that you may face, but it is not exhaustive and does not constitute legal advice. You should consult your lawyer for legal advice about the particular circumstances of your beauty store business.

Jean Warshaw is a lawyer in private practice in New York City. She provides advice on business and environmental law. She can be reached at 212.722.2240.