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Setting Expectations: Being on the Same Page as Your Lawyer

Are you and your attorney on the same page? One of the most important things your lawyer can do for you when going through litigation is to set expectations, so that you have some idea of just how time-consuming, expensive, and invasive to your life a lawsuit could become. In fact, most civil lawsuits are incredibly complex and multifarious undertakings, and the more is at stake, the more twists and turns a lawsuit is likely to involve.

Going into a lawsuit with a good understanding of the range of results and potential range of costs and investments you’ll need to make is critical to making competent decisions about your lawsuit. Because lawsuits are extremely demanding on an attorney’s time, if your attorney bills by the hour this can mean very large bills. Delivering to you, the client, a useful map of the legal landscape ahead is a hallmark of good legal counsel.

For example, in a given month in which our firm participates in some depositions and perhaps also a mediation or court hearing, it’s not unheard of for client bills for a single month to exceed $10,000 or even $15,000. At an hourly rate of $250 an hour, for example, $15,000 encompasses 60 hours-worth of attorney time. At Asheville Legal we strive to be sure our clients are aware in advance that these kinds of expenses can accrue during the course of a lawsuit.

But most of all, the expenses and investment of time are highest during a trial, because trials are monumental undertakings with all kinds of research, problems, and challenges that need to be faced. For the less-burdensome trials, expect the “trial month” to cost as much as $40,000--at the $250 hourly rate above, this signifies 160 hours-worth of work, and frequently these trials will require our firm to utilize two lawyers at once, or otherwise rely on our staff, who have more modest hourly rates. During the trial preparation and trial phase of suit, expect your attorney to be working ten hour days, and to bill for all those hours. Further still, more complex trials will be even more expensive.

Before you even file a lawsuit, you should have a general idea of how time consuming and expensive this process can become, so that you can make an informed decision about whether to actually pursue that suit. This is critical because once you’re locked into litigation, it’s hard to find your way out. And if you begin getting massive bills from your attorney without any prior warning, then that could mean something wasn’t communicated to you properly.

This isn't to say your attorney necessarily did something wrong--oftentimes litigation even takes turns that we couldn't predict! But nevertheless, nothing is more critical for a successful suit than being on the same page and working as an effective team with your counsel. Disputes or surprises about the bills can degrade that relationship quickly and have a negative impact on your case and prospects for success.

If you have questions about the lawsuit process, the challenges or expenses of complex civil litigation, or whether or not you have a case that’s worth pursuing, give the civil litigation team at Asheville Legal a call today.


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