Transcribed article based on the video above.
The best way to manage attorneys’ fees is to manage the process. What I most simply mean is a lot of us are intimidated or scared to talk to our lawyer about how we can keep our attorney bills low and where we need to spend time on things versus where we don’t need to spend time on things.
I always try to start off with what is the scope of work they are going to do and how many hours you think they are going to put in. Especially if your attorney is billing you on an hourly basis and you think that work is going to be more than five, ten, fifteen hours, get an estimate up front from your attorney about how long that work is going to take and then get their agreement that as they reach the end of those billable hours, or more specifically when they go over, that you are going to get communication back to you.
One of the ways that attorney fees rack up, is we don’t pay attention as a business owner or operators to how many hours something has taken until it’s complete. The other part of the process is not to be afraid or timid to engage with the attorney about a specific effort. For example, if you’re going over a contract negotiation, what’s going to be helpful is to let them know how important that contract is in the grand scheme of the business. You as the business owner need to give the attorney a sense of how much risk you are really to take. They may start off thinking, “I need to be very meticulous in this case, I need to have a very heavy hand.” This is important in a lot of the agreements you will go into, but in other cases it may just be important that you have a basic legal contract between you and a partner or a vendor and the attorney may spend way too much time perfecting that document when it wasn’t really needed.
If you spent the time as a business owner or operator up front communicating the intent of the business deal or the intent of what you’re trying to get done with your attorney you are probably going to save yourself hundreds if not thousands of dollars in fees on that particular project.
Jason Nazar is the co-founder and CEO of Docstoc. He’s a frequent author and speaker on small businesses topics. You can read more of his posts here on Docstoc and at his blog Jasonnazar.com.