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As young attorneys, we obviously want experience and income, but severely underbidding the competition just to snag a client not only cheapens your degree, it can potentially affect the quality of service you provide.

How To Get Paid

As young attorneys, we obviously want experience and income, but severely underbidding the competition just to snag a client not only cheapens your degree, it can potentially affect the quality of service you provide.

7 comments

  1. If a client doesn’t pay, at what point do you sue him/ her for your fee?

  2. This is interesting, following so soon after Dan’s post about how he spends so much time marketing himself, which wasn’t taught in law school. I wonder if law students would be well served by throwing a few business classes in the mix? Marketing, budgeting, business math, HR basics… some classes along those lines, or maybe even a solo/small firm clinic, could be quite useful.

  3. Suing a client can be a difficult decision for many reasons. Is it worth your time? If a client owes you $300 on a $10,000 retainer, you probably won’t go through conciliation court. That scenario is obvious but what about the cases where you’re owed $1,500? How about $5,000? Also ask yourself if the client will refer you new business down the road. If so, you may consider forgiving a relatively low balance.

    Another consideration is reputation. Despite popular belief, if you start suing your clients on a regular basis you could garner a lot of negative attention.

    The most important consideration is whether you’ll even be paid once winning in conciliation or district court. If a judge finds in your favor and a judgment issues, you still have to collect! If your client is unemployed or has no assets, that judgment may be worthless. On the other hand, sometimes bringing a suit sparks action with an unresponsive client who will settle the case with you by paying an amount less than what is owed.

    You’ll know your client better than others so use your best judgment. If you decide to sue, approach it from a business perspective and not as a personal score to settle. At the end of the day, the best way to avoid going down the litigation route is to enter a solid retainer agreement with more than one safeguard for nonpayment. Hope that helps!

  4. Another consideration when determining whether to sue your client is that your action may result in a malpractice counterclaim or complaint filed with the Minnesota Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board. When pressed for cash, clients are quick to find excuses, and blaming you for charging too much or errors is often their first defense—regardless of whether their defense is legitimate.

    Does anyone have thoughts about whether using a reputable collections agency for overdue accounts is a good idea? Does anyone have experience with this?

  5. I’ve never used a collections agency before but have asked around for opinions. The concern with agencies is that their collection method includes merely sending a letter demanding payment and perhaps even some phone calls. If the client still refuses to pay, the agency starts threatening legal action. In other words they basically do what attorneys have been doing the entire time. This is the feeling of most attorneys I’ve spoken to but if someone has a different opinion, please share.

  6. I have worked with countless attorneys for this and that through the years.

    I find it very easy to find inept, easily manipulated, girly-man shysters that with just the right smile and a seemingly sincere entreaties make them work-work like a dog and then never pay them another dime. You’ve been beat at your own game.

    It is fun to watch you cretins squirm in those ugly bags of water and carbon while I verbally smash your supposed cerebral prowess to pieces.

    By no means do you “prudies” have a lock on any brain power cabinet,
    granted you have the system gamed and rigged generally in your favor with your black robed Nero brethren judges, but that does not preclude me from making you wish you died at child birth.

    I routinely give my opinions on how to take you lawyer to cleaners and and have fun doing all the whilst I get what I want.

    Good luck to ya children.

  7. Having had come from the other side of the “v” it is interesting to see how little of my time is actually spent practicing the law. I need to be a marketing guru, salesman, collections agent … and be able to do some light cleaning and auto detailing. Christopher – I could not agree with you more – your instinct is going to be the strongest indicator of success – that and having said instinct burned by experience. Thanks for the tips.

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