Lawyers, Guns, And Money
Whether down on their luck, innocent bystanders, or just stuck between a rock and a hard place, people tend to turn to lawyers to help solve their problems. Attorneys expend a great amount of hard work serving their clients. They deserve to get paid like any other service provider. There will always be clients who, for whatever reason, whether because they are wary of lawyers or perhaps because they are just a little dishonest themselves, will look for any reason to justify (rationalize) not paying their legal bills in a timely way, or at all.
Happy, satisfied clients tend to pay their legal bills more expediently than dissatisfied ones. You don’t have to go to law school to learn this fact about earning a living as an attorney. There are certain customs that lawyers may practice that will help facilitate the payment of their legal fees from clients.
The interactions between attorney and client should create an environment where clients want to pay their legal bills, or, at least, have no reason to pay their legal bills with hesitation or delay. The opportunities to build this client-friendly environment include the initial client conference, the first discussion and estimation of fees, the fee agreement, and, hopefully, a sustained pattern of attorney-client communication.
A lawyer’s bill for legal services should tell a story about the progression of the client’s matter and how the lawyer is providing representation and helping the client achieve his or her goals. A legal invoice should be easy to understand, demonstrate the value of provided legal services, and indicate why the billing lawyer’s representation is a good value.
Here are five tips for facilitating the attorney-client relationship in matters related to billing clients.
*Discuss fees and costs during the first attorney-client conference. Never hedge nor hesitate when discussing fees. Neither party wants to encounter an unexpected dispute later in the relationship.
*Write fee agreements in plain English without legalese whenever possible.
*Estimate fees using a “will not exceed” quote rather than a range. Clients tend to only remember the lower number when given a range of possible fees.
*Send current, monthly bills that are detailed but easy to read, including listing items for which there is no cost or fee. No client wants a large bill for six months of legal work. Once payment in full is received, send a final bill that says nothing is owed.
*Do not bill for every phone call. This is a common complaint about attorneys.
The California Desert Trial Academy has served the residents of the Inland Empire and Coachella Valley for nine years. It won’t be long before we joyously and proudly celebrate our tenth anniversary! At CDTA, The California Desert Trial Academy (CDTA) is a 21st Century law school tailored to meet the needs of working people. Any lawyer must study and know the law. We believe that practical experience in tandem with legal knowledge is the best road to a successful, rewarding, and prosperous legal career. At CDTA, we train, educate, and develop students to be exceptional attorneys and trial advocates. Call us today at (760) 342-0900 or find out more online here.