Keep Money In Your Wallet During the Discovery Phase
One of the most daunting phases of litigation is the discovery phase. Discovery is each party’s opportunity to begin gathering information and evidence from the other party and to begin building their case. The two most commonly used forms of discovery are Interrogatories and Request for Production of Documents. Interrogatories are one party’s opportunity to ask the other party up to thirty (30) questions, which must be answered under oath. The Request for Production of Documents is one party’s opportunity to request that the other party produce documents that may be relevant to their case. This phase of litigation can end up becoming very costly for litigants but we are going to give you a few tips that can help you save legal fees during this time.
- When you receive Interrogatories from the other party, open a Word document and begin answering each question in full sentences. Some questions have multiple parts so make sure to answer each part of the question. The better you answer the question, the less edits your attorney will have to make, which will result in less back and forth and less cost. This may seem like a simple tip, but many litigants hand write answers, which the attorneys or paralegals then have to type up, or don’t answer all of the questions, which result in more prompting on the attorney’s part and thus, more fees.
- Responding to the Request for Production of Documents entails two parts: a) a written response to each request; and b) producing the corresponding documents. For each request, it is helpful to indicate in a separate Word document one of the following:
- You are providing us with the document;
- You do not have the document requested/it is in the other party’s possession;
- The document does not exist; or
- You do not have it at this time, but you will be able to get it given some time.
- We will then take your notes and create a formal written response to the other party.
- In addition to preparing the written response, you must produce the requested documents. This is truly your opportunity to save money as there is a lot of work involved in preparing a document production. The more work you do on your end, the less work your attorney must do, and again, the more fees you save. When gathering documents, organize them by request number. For example, if the first request seeks tax returns for the last 3 years, label each tax return with “Request 1 – 2017 tax return” etc. You can also create folders and number them for each request and place all documents in the corresponding folder. Keeping your documents organized is key to saving on legal fees during discovery.
- Do not email documents to your attorney one by one. Not only does it clutter your attorney’s inbox, but it is disorganized and creates a larger likelihood for documents to get missed or lost. Instead, contact your attorney’s paralegal and coordinate the best way to transmit the documents in an organized manner.
If you have any questions regarding the discovery phase, do not hesitate to contact your attorney and ask for clarification or clear instructions. It is always our goal to work efficiently and save you as much in legal fees as possible, while making sure everything is answered properly and thoroughly.