“Making” Clients pay your bill. . .

On a recent blog discussion over at My Shingle one of the other participants wrote the following in respone to a comment by me:

"You are not disagreeing that the legal services purchaser can be made to pay $150/hour even to a solo. . . "–and yes, the solo will be doing well to "profit" (pocket) 2/3 of that, and said solo will be lucky to have 1,000 to 1,200 collectible hours–making said solo’s gross (pre expense, pre tax) income $150,000 to perhaps $180,000."

Relevant parts of my response to him (or her, the comment was anonymous): 

Anon., I may be reading too much into your last comment, but I am a little concerned about the sentence you wrote "could be made to pay $150/hour."  Probably you were just writing casually & most likely I’m just reading too far into your choice of words, but let me just encourage you to try & get into the habit of thinking in terms of the amount of value you can deliver, not the amount that clients can be "made" to pay.  The latter way of thinking usually leads to big a/r problems & doesn’t make for a fun law practice. 

Clients can’t be "made" to pay anything.  All we can do is implement good management techniques & learn how to use our trust accounts like the profit-protecting management tools they are designed to be.  But at the end of the day, the client won’t pay your bill for $150/hour or $15/hour if you don’t demonstrate that they got value.

Like I said, I’m not trying to give you a hard time for what is probably just a different choice of words. Delivering value is a subject that’s important to me so I get kinda touchy.