Why do we do what we know injures us?

One of my clients recently asked me why we all do what we know is not good for us, in fact, hurts us? If you’ve got a choice between option A that is good for us an d option B that is not good for us, why do we oftentimes select option B? To be specific, why do we procrastinate? Why do we fail to enforce our own engagement agreements? Why do we continue to work for clients who do not pay our billings? And we could go on …

In this specific instance, my client complains about his partners and associates not collecting billings for work performed. There may be several possibilities to answer the “why.” One is that, despite being in an adversarial profession, most of us dislike being confrontational, especially with our own clients. Second, lawyers like doing what they love to do … and collecting (or any business related matter) is not what they love to do. And third, they don’t perceive this as their business.

There may be a number of solutions that will get their attention. First, you sign the paycheck. That carries a lot of weight if you care to wield the “stick.” Two, engage a staff person to be the collections manager for the firm; don’t ask lawyers to do that which they’re both not qualified to do and which takes them away from doing what they do best. Third, read my book, Collecting Your Fee: Getting Paid from Intake to Invoice, and follow the scenario and script outlined to interact with slow-paying clients.


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