Tips on Getting Paid
You deserve to get paid for your work. End of story.
Unfortunately, getting paid may not always be such an easy feat.
Here are a number of tips to help ensure that you get paid for the
work that you do:
Select Your Clients with Care.
- Clients not only select you, but you should select your clients. Don't take just anyone
who walks through your doors. Do your due diligence. Collect
information before determining whether to take the matter. Was this
potential client referred to you? If not a referral, where did this
person find you? Do you trust the source?
Use Your Fee Agreements.
- Include language in your fee agreements such as your rates and
costs, your billing process and the consequences of the failure to
pay (including withdrawal to the extent permitted by the rules,
interest charges on late payments and your collections
Collect Money Up Front.
- Use a retainer to collect fees up front. This serves as a test.
By requiring a retainer, you will eliminate clients who cannot
Bill Early and Often.
- The more time that passes without payment from a client, the
less likely you are to get paid. Bill on a regular schedule (i.e.
at least monthly) or after a good result when the client is more
likely to pay. Send your client a professional invoice that is
clearly and conspicuously labeled as such, and includes a due date
for payment. It goes without saying that you must track and record your time in order to get
Keep in Touch with Your Clients.
- Keep in regular contact with your clients. Keep them apprised
of what is happening in their case and the good work you are doing.
This may take the form of phone calls or written status reports
between billing cycles.
Don't be Afraid to Get Out.
- Be proactive about getting out of cases when you are not
getting paid, and when allowed by the Professional Rules of Conduct
and court rules. If your client is insolvent and refuses to pay, it
is unlikely that you will ever get paid. An insolvent client likely
has other creditors also after him/her. Again, this stresses the
importance of selecting good clients initially.
Collections as a Last Resort.
- Have a collections policy for tracking client payments and
handling situations in which the client is delinquent with
payments. As a last resort, you can hire a collections agency to
help you collect your fees owed. And, if all else fails, you can
sue your client to recover your fees. When embarking upon these
measures of last resort, be sure to weigh all the costs and risks
Tip courtesy of Heidi Alexander, Law Office Management Assistance
Published March 21, 2013
To learn more about the Law Practice Management
Section, which is complimentary for all MBA members,
contact LPM Section Chair Thomas J. Barbar or Vice
Chair Cynthia E.