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Sad as it is, there are unscrupulous law firms operating on the market that take advantage of the public’s legal illiteracy by pumping money out of them. This is done by these firms either in effect doing nothing or by them doing tons of meaningless or unnecessary actions that don’t get their client a single step closer to the results they hired them for. Consequently, the public is losing trust in lawyers (attorneys).

To avoid becoming the next victim of such scams, be sure to study your legal services agreement carefully. In most cases, underhanded law firms deliberately propose signing some rubbish, unelaborate agreement only one or two pages long.

For example, take a client of ours who came to us after the dreadful lawyers she previously had consulted provided her an agreement, the scope of which entailed “representing the Customer’s interests at the Italian Consulate”. Curiously, the actual service was the divorce of her husband who was an Italian citizen. She never did find out what exactly those lawyers were planning on doing for her at the Consulate.

So, pay attention to the scope of the agreement: that item should go in depth, and it should be written out clearly what services precisely your law firm is going to be providing to you.

An example from the scope of the agreement was:

“The company assumes the obligation to provide legal support in the Contractor Agreement termination procedure (number, date) with so-and-so contracting agent and subsequent judicial recourse based on the location address of the Contractor with a lawsuit to terminate the Contracting Agreement (number, date), collection of penalties, collection of an unearned advance, and legal fees.”

On top of that, also included within this service was: writing up claims; sending claims to the debtor, writing up a lawsuit and submitting it to court; representing the customer’s interests at all levels of court hearings; coordinating the client’s court position; preparing procedural documents (complaints, petitions, counter lawsuits, written positions, objections); obtaining court rulings; etc.

The same depth of detail is necessary for subsequent collection of litigation costs as well. For this purpose, we always recommend preparing a detailed report of the legal services provider, covering all the actions they performed to increase the chances of collecting a greater amount (there is still a trend of courts practically arbitrarily cutting lawyer expenses; in other words, no matter how much you've paid for your legal services, the court, guided by the principle of rationality, may cut those costs down to a completely unreasonable level – to 15,000-20,000 roubles).

So when the losing party is charged expenses for their lawyer, one has to be prepared for the judge to study the legal services agreement and other accompanying documents to evaluate the real volume of services rendered by the provider. The court may refer to specific items of the agreement as the basis for the lawyer costs compensation amount it will rule.

You must also keep in mind that obtaining legal services doesn't mean you will win. The proper services entail the high-quality, qualified provision of such services carried out via the efforts of lawyers who are not only experienced but who also specialize in the specific, relevant field of law. No decent legal firm will promise to you in advance that the result will work out in your favor. Companies that make promises like those and guarantee results should give you pause.

In consulting a law firm, study your agreement closely, ask questions about any aspects of it that are unclear to you, and insist that the scope of the agreement be written out in as much depth of detail as possible, rather than using general phrasing. Thoroughly analyze the services provider to avoid additional subsequent expenses and expenditures for court disputes upon contracting the law firm.

Stop by our office or send us a message on the Word & Law website, and we will be happy to help you handle your court dispute!

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