Blawg Review #109
Growing Your Firm

Ruining It For The Rest Of Us.

It is interesting, signing up a new client. Some clients, typically the ones who don’t have a tremendous amount of experience with legal services, are easy to deal with in many ways.  They appreciate what you achieve for them as long as you set expectations up front.

But, sophisticated legal consumers already believe that an hour of attorney time offers little, if any, value. In fact, they don’t even think of value any more. They just want to keep the bill under control and do so by berating the attorney when a bill arrives. Oftentimes, they delay payment to send a message of disapproval.

Many companies have become as cynical as the lawyers who have served them through the years. Oftentimes, they have used a variety of counsel through the years. Promises are made at the beginning of the case, which, of course, turn out to be non-binding. Little is said. The hourly bills come in month after month. Things seem great for a while. But nothing seems to be achieved and the end zone, wherever it is, doesn’t show up anywhere on the upcoming calendar.

Many clients agree to walk away from the merits of their case halfway through, purely on the prospect of never-ending hourly fees. Nothing truly is gained. The client is lucky to have covered their costs. More often than not, they are staring at a $50,000 - $100,000 legal bill, scores of hours in litigation support, and little to show for it.

I have to say that one of the most difficult things is attracting new sophisticated clients. They are the hardest to deal with. I can talk value all day long, but they know nothing but hourly billing. Some are converted and become great clients, but some are so engrained in habit that every conversation seems to protect themselves against the monthly bill. They don’t talk value; they don’t see value.

Beware of the client that doesn’t enthusiastically embrace the projected bill on defined deliverables. A client that has been burned too many times may never get to the point of understanding that legal services can provide real value.

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