to: rjon robins
date: Thu, Sep 24, 2009 at 5:35 PM
subject: Attorneys/Law Firms that owe you money
Rjon: I signed up for the most recent offering related to converting prospects into fees and I'm in your gold coaching program…
A large part of my practice is coverage for other attorneys. I realize there are other ways to structure payments and using the leverage of refusing to cover future cases – but under the scenario of doing the work, sending the disposition with bill and expecting payment – what is the best way to handle attorneys that are ducking you for payment. The same attorneys who receive great results, promptly mailed and not sat on for weeks and far better results than if they came up personally as many non-local attorneys get 'home-towned'.
I accept credit cards and have cornered some for payment by that method. It is just a couple of attorneys and once I clear these balances I will pass on future cases, but my time is well worth what I charge. Have you seen bar complaints over fellow attorneys not paying?
I have been doing this long enough to not think that it is not out of the realm of possibility that colleagues will do this or that it is surprising or shocking the conscious – but it just makes me sick as most of the matters I cover are pre-paid type cases where the originating attorney is flat fee'd up front weeks or even months before the hearing (ticket or criminal matter) but then fails to budget for the coverage. I am not expecting a back and forth just a quick comment if possible – I should have brought this up on the last call.
Thanks – you continue to produce a great product.
Hi Jxxxxx, OK, a few observations before we get to the meat of your question & I tell you exactly what I think you should do:
1. "refusing to cover future cases" I don't like this approach at all. Reason why not is because all you're going to accomplish by telling the debtor attorney that unless they pay you, you will not cover future cases. . . is you'll just be drumming up business for other lawyers and giving the debtor an emotional excuse not to pay you at all since obviously once you lay that down they'll write you off.
2. On the other hand if you are really as much of a bad-ass as you claim to be below (ok allude to be) then what you do is wait for the debtor to hire you again, wait until the morning-of and then extract a credit card payment for the past-due balance plus your fee for the hearing you may or may not be attending for them that day.
One of my favorite clients (because I learn so much from him) offers his criminal defense clients who owe him money two options. One is free (notice of withdrawl) the other is your bill that you can use your credit card to take care of today. Your choice. Seriously I want you to get as PISSED OFF as I am about these irresponsible (better than calling them dishonest, don't you think) lawyers who are ROYALLY FUCKING YOU OVER.
Paradoxically I expect what you'll find if you take this matter-of-fact approach is that unlike the "no problem I'll just write this wimp off & keep his money" reaction you'll likely get from #1 above, this matter of fact pay me or you're the one who will be fucked approach will probably earn you some well-deserved (if you do it) street cred. and telegraph that you're the bad-ass I want to have covering my hearings for me just in case there's a throw-down (it happens, right?)
3. "but my time is well worth what I charge." I believe this is at the root of your problem. You're still thinking about it in terms of the value of your time. In point of fact your time is worth nothing. Sorry. However the problems you help me solve (saving me time, helping me make money, protecting my reputation) DOES have value. Focus on that and not the time because I don't give a shit if you get my hearing or depo covered in 5 minutes or an hour & 5 minutes.
All I care about is my time, my money & my reputation. Make sense? Seriously, this can be a tough mindset shift. But I PROMISE once you get here you'll make alot more money & have alot more fun too doing coverage work. By the way the next time you're on one of the open office hours calls be sure to ask me how to double your revenues & I'll tell you exactly how to do it. It will be so easy for you that it may actually scare you how close to it you've been all this time.
OK so the answer to your question. . . forget about getting the bar to collect your fees for you. Instead, either
a.) swallow your pride and either go to the debtor-attorney's office to get your money if you are close enough, or else
b.) call their assistant and schedule a telephone appointment for the next month so it will be harder for them to say there are no openings or else
c.) wait & implement real world collection strategy #2 above.
If you go with b.) and when you get on the phone you follow this script EXACTLY: "Hi First Name when we scheduled this appointment it was set for 20 minutes, is that still good for you? (if yes, then proceed to) "Listen I need to get a credit card from you so we can settle up your bill right now." and then you shut up. Seriously, don't say a single word. Don't make a sound. Just sit there and wait for the debtor attorney to give you his or her credit card or an excuse.
The most likely excuse will be that they need to review the bill. "OK, look at your fax machine it's sitting there waiting for you let's go over it together right now." (remember they just said they have 20 minutes)
If they say that 20 minutes is NOT good then you abort the mission and shift gears to "Oh, I'm sorry to hear that. What's the best time for us to reschedule?"
If they ask what this is about. . . you just stick to your agenda "Oh I can explain the whole thing to you very easily when we reschedule, what's the best day for you? I'm available on Day at Time or on Day at Time. Do either of those work for you for about 20 minutes?" (Well, if you can tell me what this is about maybe we can just get it out of the way now) jason, this is a "tell". What they're telling you is that they're curious. Well let them stay curious. The objective of this call is to get your kids their money, not to satisfy the curiosity of the person who is witholding it from them.
Print out this script & follow it to your money! RJON
p.s. Watch this for a little inspiration;-)
p.p.s. Visit www.HowToManageaSmallLawFirm.com to get some great free law practice management samples that will teach you how to avoid needing this advice in the first place.