Lawyers should build a reputation for being "firm but fair" about fees, staring with the first consultation, says lawyer and practice management advisor Reid Trautz.
Feb. 5, 2020 – Ever have problems collecting fees for the legal work you have performed? Lawyer and practice management advisor Reid Trautz says lawyers should build a reputation for being “firm but fair” about fees, staring with the first consultation.
Trautz, a speaker at the 2019 Wisconsin Solo and Small Firm Conference, talked about the different steps lawyers should take so they aren’t chasing after fees owed.
The right systems and systems and processes, Trautz said, can create a lawyer-client relationship in which clients want to propel pay their bills.
“You’ve got to have a good client intake policy and understand some of the financial risks before you take them on as a client,” Trautz said.
“Most people don’t realize that when we have a retainer or a fee advance, that really is part of your credit policy … how much credit am I going to give this client before I expect payment. We get a little money upfront but we don’t always get enough.”
Trautz said firms should also stay ahead of accounts receivables and send out bills on time, with informative information that describes the work performed.
Communication, he says, is the art of getting paid. “The art side is about changing your communication and changing your attitude about money,” Trautz said.
Trautz says attorneys must talk about money from the start. “We need to build a reputation for being firm but fair about our fees. That starts at the first consultation.”
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