Reclaiming Your Time
Getting paid is an essential aspect of your business. If you have more than one client with an unpaid balance due, then you have one too many. Following these strategies can change how your firm does business to ensure you are getting paid and are left with more time to help your clients.
Look For Red Flags
Before doing anything, make sure in your consultation you screen your clients. If the potential client makes you feel uncomfortable or suspicious, follow your instincts and do not take the case. Look for red flags. Have they sued their prior attorneys or filed malpractice complaints? Have they refused to pay outstanding fees to previous attorneys? Are they already saying they don’t have the money to pay your consultation fee or want to negotiate your fees? These are all signs that you are setting yourself up for a battle every time your bills are sent out. Do not take every case that walks through your door; there are many clients in need of your services that have the means to pay and will.
Get It In Writing
Ensure you have a written retainer agreement, and immediately upon being retained, obtain your client’s personal information, address, social security number, date of birth, and emergency contact information. If there ever is a need to pursue the client for collections, having this information is extremely important to collect successfully.
Use an Evergreen Retainer Agreement
Review your retainer agreements to ensure they are clear on what you will do for the client and when a new retainer agreement is needed (appeals, etc.) Most attorneys use a flat fee, hourly, or contingency fee agreement, but consider using an Evergreen Retainer Agreement. With an Evergreen Retainer, your client pays the full retainer fee upon hiring the firm. Each month, when you send your invoice, the client is required to pay the total amount and replenish their trust account so that the balance in their trust account is always at a certain level. If correctly done and enforced, at the end of the case, you will issue the client a check for the balance in their client trust account, which should be the retainer fee. The use of an Evergreen retainer is a great way to ensure there are always funds for your client to pay their invoices and time for you to file a Motion to Withdraw without allowing the client to get deeply indebted to your firm.
Ensure that you are billing monthly and are using proper software to make billing more streamlined. Don’t expect a client to be prompt with submitting payment if you are not prompt with sending out invoices. Make sure your invoices are easy to read and are accurate.
Ensure your staff and all attorneys who have worked on the matter have reviewed all billing entries before sending them out.
Address Late Payments Directly
If a client does get behind on payments, call the client yourself and discuss the issue. Do not leave this task to your staff. Often hearing from their attorney provides more want for the client to pay. Be firm yet professional and remind them of the contractual agreement between them and the firm. Often it is beneficial for you to offer a lump sum settlement or provide a professional courtesy discount. Getting paid a significant portion of what is due is better than nothing and having to pursue the matter in court and then through collections measures.
If a client disputes your fees, don’t take offense but listen to their justifications for the way they feel.
If you did commit an error, address it and resolve it. Always remain professional and do your best to attempt to collect.
Getting paid is an essential part of business, and using these strategies can help your firm ensure that it isn’t using resources to track down unpaid balances and instead can focus on helping your clients.
To find out how the collections attorneys and team at Andalman and Flynn, P.C. can help you, please visit Andalman and Flynn Collections.
Contact us at 301-563-6685.
About Andalman & Flynn Collections: For decades, businesses and professionals have been turning to the experienced collections attorneys at Andalman & Flynn for their debt recovery needs. A licensed collections agency, their experienced team successfully navigates the complex laws surrounding debt collection practices. The firm combines cutting-edge technology with savvy, effective debt resolution methods that result in high success rates and fast recovery times. For more information, please visit www.andalmanflynncollections.com.