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April 2015 Archives

How You Can Reduce the Cost of Discovery

By: David L. Duff, Esquire
In any domestic relations proceeding, from divorce to custody to support modification, the process whereby each side obtains evidence and factual information from the other, is known as "discovery". Obviously, appropriate and thorough discovery is crucial to the successful prosecution of your claim, or to the successful defense of the other side's claim. It is also the single most despised - and expensive - aspect of any domestic relations action.
Discovery between two litigants will most often take the form of written questions, known as Interrogatories, and a Request for Production of Documents. Clients intensely dislike, and are greatly irritated by, having to answer questions, or produce documents, that are often quite personal in nature, or seemingly utterly irrelevant to the matter actually in dispute. I often hear complaints that the opposing party's discovery requests are "silly", "don't have anything to do with what we are fighting over", "are an invasion of my privacy", or are "none of his/her damn business".
All of these complaints may be absolutely true; however, Virginia's rules concerning the permissible scope of what may be requested in discovery is extremely broad, and virtually all-encompassing. You can either respond to the discovery requests that you find offensive, or pay your attorney to file written objections to the same; then file a written response to the opposing party's inevitable Motion to overrule those objections; then appear in court and argue to a judge why the objections are valid and should be sustained. After approximately 6 weeks, and several thousand dollars in attorney's fees later, the most likely outcome is that you are ordered to respond fully to those offensive discovery requests - and, you may very well have the added pleasure of having to pay a portion of the other side's attorney's fees.
In view of the foregoing, clients involved in any form of domestic relations litigation can do themselves a favor, and save literally thousands of dollars in fees to their attorneys, by doing the following when dealing with discovery:
1. Don't waste time complaining to your lawyer. There is little-to-nothing that he/she can do about it;


By: David L. Duff, Esquire
Virginia views the relationships of attorney-client as a contractual one, which can be created either orally, or through a written document. If your lawyer makes a mistake in the handling of your legal matter, and, as a result, you are damaged, then the period of time available to you for suing your lawyer for compensation will depend upon the nature of your contract of employment. This period of time is referred to as the "statute of limitations".
If you hire an attorney orally, whether over the telephone, or simply with a handshake, then the statute of limitations is three (3) years, beginning on the last day that the attorney worked on your legal matter. This means that, if the attorney makes a mistake that causes you to somehow lose money, then you are required to sue that attorney within three (3) years - or forever be barred from doing so!
Most attorneys prefer to have a written agreement with their clients, which expressly sets forth the legal matter for which they are being hired, as well as the financial terms of the hiring. With such a written agreement, the statute of limitations is thereby extended to five (5) years, commencing on the date that the attorney last worked on your legal matter.
In view of the difference in the statute of limitations that is available to you, should you find yourself in the position of having to sue your lawyer, it is important that you always insist that there be some documentation that establishes the hiring of the attorney and, hence, the creation of an attorney-client relationship. This will, then, provide you with the longer statute of limitations (5 years).
If you have concerns about the quality of the legal services provided by your lawyer, call The Duff Law Firm at (703) 591-7475 to schedule a complimentary consultation with one of our attorneys.
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