Saturday, December 30, 2006

Lawyers as Clients

I have often said that when my per diem practice started growing, it was a good thing because it eliminated the main problem of general practice.....the clients. Not to disparage my private clients, but here are some positive things about lawyers as clients, especially when they are hiring you for per diem work:
1. They understand that you need to clearly define the service to be offered, and the fee. Granted, the projects are often finite and simple, but I have never had a lawyer question me when I clarified the limits of the service, and defined the fees for extra services.
2. Most of them pay on time. Not all, but most. The challenge in per diem is to build a following of lawyers, and when you figure out who the dogs are, get rid of them. I will generally extend open credit to a new lawyer client, but if they start to run a tab above $500 and over 30 days, I address this immediately. I re-bill after 30 days, then fax a reminder in 45, then I call. I have also found it very helpful to accept credit cards by phone. It is very easy to set up, and if a lawyer client is running a tab that makes you uncomfortable, asking for a credit card payment is a sure-fire test of their intentions. If they don't pay, and don't agree to make a credit card payment, end the relationship.
3. They understand what you are supposed to do, and what you did. When something unexpected happens in court, as it often does, this does not cause the lawyer/client to lose confidence and question your ability.
4. The "case" least as far as my involvement. I don't have to maintain a file forever, and think about it, and have it get revived at unpredictable times. I get hired, I work, I get paid, its done......repeat.

These issues are all instructive in our problems with private clients, and worthy of further discussion.....

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