Getting the most from outside counsel

posted by Amy Adkins on Tuesday, July 31, 2018 in SHAZAM Blog

Let’s face it, lawyers can be expensive, so it’s important to make the most of your dollars and the time you’re investing. Follow these five steps to improve the quality of work you get from outside counsel and better manage the expense.

Have a plan

Provide a plan to counsel early in the process for each engagement. Include milestones with the expectation that the attorney provide you with the estimated time to reach them. While the plan helps to ensure they’re focusing on the issues that are your highest priority, it may need to be adjusted and updated as the matter evolves.

Set expectations

When engaging outside counsel for a specific matter, clearly communicate what your ideal resolution would be. It’s the attorney’s job to manage your expectations and educate you regarding the legal realities of the situation, but if you don’t start by telling them what you want, you’re setting them up to fail and almost guaranteeing that you will be disappointed with the results.

Get organized

Prepare a summary of the issue and gather all the required documentation before engaging. You don’t want to pay your attorney to comb through disorganized files to retrieve the necessary information. Once you engage, share this documentation. Be familiar with the facts, or identify someone who is, so your selected attorney has access to a reliable and knowledgeable resource to help them move things forward.


Believe it or not, most attorneys are willing to negotiate their fees or accept an alternative fee arrangement to get your business. Many are willing to agree to fixed fees for specific projects or fee limits, which require client approval for expenses over a certain amount. Clients may also ask to limit the number of attorneys engaged in a matter, or request that associates with lower billable rates handle the more routine aspects, such as research. Also, don’t be afraid to move work to another firm to reduce costs.


Communication is the key to the lawyer / client relationship and it needs to continue throughout the entire course of the matter. Counsel should be in regular contact with you about the status of the representation. It’s the only way to ensure your attorney is fully aware of your goals and expectations.

This list is not all-inclusive list and provides a few ways to save money and time. While engaging outside counsel can be a costly experience, be prepared and follow these steps to have a more successful representation.


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SHAZAM, Inc. and ITS, Inc. provide this blog for general informational purposes only. Our blog may be shared by a direct link wherein the content remains as originally presented and has not been altered. SHAZAM, Inc. and ITS, Inc. assume no responsibility for errors or omissions in the contents on the blog. By using this blog, reader agrees that the information published does not constitute nor is a substitute for legal advice which should only be sought from a qualified, licensed attorney. 


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