Litigation budget

 Posted By: je froilan m. clerigo
10-Dec-2007

You're in an initial meeting with your lawyer. He interviews you about the case that you're thinking of filing. After a while, you ask him, "how much will it cost?" He hedges then tells you, "you know, it's difficult to say, what with the postponements, the motions, the pleadings that may be filed by the other side which we'd have to respond to. I really can't tell." You press on; surely by his experience, he would be able to lay down for you a litigation budget for your case. He is still noncommital.You walk away from the meeting thinking to yourself, but will the case be worth my expense?

Can you imagine going to a mechanic and not being told how much the repair on your car would cost? That your mechanic will just begin to work on the car and just send you his bills after?

The truth is, it's not difficult to estimate the cost of litigation. Just as in the case of the mechanic, the operative word is "estimate." Certainly, we can't predict the future. Judges retire, cases are re-raffled, lawyers maneuver, all of which can result to delays and probably to added expenses. But, as with all other budgets, these contingencies are not difficult to foresee from the perspective of a seasoned lawyer.

Whether it is time-billing, fixed fee, or whatever arrangement, since most of these arrangements are progress-based, a reasonable estimate of the fees can be made. If your lawyer can't do so, maybe he's not as experienced as you think he is.