Do You Take Payments?

No, I don’t take payments. If I put you on a payment plan, I’d be loaning you the money to pay me. I’ll give you some time to get the fee together, but if nobody you know will loan you the money to pay my fee, why would I?

Banks are businesses dedicated to loaning people money. They know how to identify sound and bad credit risks, but they are not really terribly picky about who they loan money to, or on what terms. If a bank won’t loan you the money to pay my fee, again, why would I?

Unlike banks, I’m dedicated to defending people. Every other one of my clients paid me up front on the understanding that I would spend as much time as necessary working on her case. If I loan you the money to pay me, I have to spend time making sure I get paid, and every minute that I spend trying to get paid is a minute spent not defending them or you.

You don’t go to a bank expecting to hire a criminal-defense lawyer. Don’t go to a criminal-defense lawyer expecting to take out a loan.

0 responses to “Do You Take Payments?”

  1. What percentage of potential clients do you lose based on this?

    That’s not a criticism, it’s an actual question. Personally, I hate being a collections agency, and frankly, I do such a bad job of being one, that I frequently get severely underpaid.

    Also, thanks for telling me about the State Bar Journal article. I might not have noticed it. I use it only for the same general purposes that you do, except I’ll admit to reading the disbarment section to find out which other Austin lawyers have bee disbarred ?

    Also, you were far too modest in not mentioning that you were one of the 4 bloggers mentioned in that list. (I tried to hypelink to the article in this comment, but your settings wouldn’t let me.)

  2. Jamie,

    The pool of potential clients is diminished by my pricing, incuding my no-payment-plans policy, but I have no idea how much. I used to charge a lot less and take payments, and I have fewer clients now but they pay me better.

    If I lowered my fees or took payments, I might get 50% more business, make 30% more money, and have 33% less time to spend on each case. No, thank you.

    I’ll often — if I’m convinced that the client just needs some time to borrow or otherwise collect the money — give a client some time to pay the second half of the fee. Typically, I’ll take half up front and half in a month, but only if we have a clear understanding of where the money is going to come from.

    It takes faith to double your fees, and faith to stop taking payments. But both will make your life better, allow you to represent your clients better, make your clients happier, and allow you to spend more time with the twins.

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