An interesting question was raised recently in the discussion about alternative fees. What happens in either of two scenarios: i) When the client terminates the relationship before the legal services are concluded and ii) When the fee is challenged in a dispute between attorney and client.
In the former case, how do you apportion work already done versus work yet to be done, especially when the fee agreement is silent on the subject? This question is set against the backdrop that a lawyer refund any advance payment of fee that has not yet been earned. And, though a fixed fee, the fee must be placed into the client trust account until earned. Does one have to refer back to the time spent (hourly billing)? And if the subject is covered in the fee agreement, are we building into the relationship all kinds of negative vibes between attorney and client?
And, though fixed fees/alternative fees are designed to reduce conflict between attorney and client, should a dispute arise, how do we test the reasonableness of the fee? Again, usually by reference to the hourly billing rate and time spent.
This subject once again points to the need for good client relations and effective, frequent communication between attorney and client to make sure such disputes don’t arise and/or are settled quickly.
The three main components of being a lawyer are getting work, doing the work, and getting paid for the work. However, many lawyers do not sufficiently understand this all-important third part. Make sure you get the proper compensation for all of your hard work!
Wisconsin is in the news again. A lawyer, who promoted himself as the "king of lemon law," won a judgment for $12,500 against an auto dealership for unauthorized repairs and an award of attorney’s fees of $150,000. The Republican-controlled legislature was so incensed that they adopted a law (and signed by the governor) limiting attorney’s fees at three times the judgment. With such limitations, lawyers will be less likely to tackle consumer abuses, the obvious intent of the legislature.
Wisconsin, the historical bastion of progressive legislation and politicians, has certainly served up a strange mixture of bedfellows in the last couple of years. It makes for interesting reading … unless it’s your ax that is being gored. The real question is whether this is limited to the state of Wisconsin or a harbinger of things to come on the national level.
From time to time, we will have a guest on our blog. This is something new for LawBiz Blog and we hope you find value in the expertise of those who will join us on occasion.
This week, Erik M. Pelton with Erik M. Pelton & Associates, PLLC is our guest blogger.
Creating and managing a successful solo or small firm is no easy task. But given the tools available today, it is easier than ever. And more and more clients today appreciate and even seek the personal relationships provided by boutique firms. Here are ten keys areas which every small or solo firm can master to propel it to greater success, growth and profit.
Carolyn Elefant at My Shingle suggests that airlines new fees for passengers who check baggage may be seen as "nickel and dime" fee increases. And, she wonders out loud whether lawyers are doing the same thing to clients when they charge for photocopying, etc. (more…)
“… a client who genuinely respects you and the work you did will pay your bill in a timely manner.” ED Poll (2003)
In meeting Ed a few years ago and having the opportunity to speak with him on several occasions, I can’t help but say that those few words embody AR collections.Not just law firm collections, but all collections.When we communicate with our clients, we need to keep in mind that every communication either gets us closer to payment or further from a payment.Our motivation, if you haven’t already seen it, should be closer to receiving payment!