I’m Too Busy to Bill
September 23, 2011
I am not kidding, I’ve actually had lawyers tell me that they are “too busy to bill.” That comment always makes me wonder how that person is eating, much less paying the rent!
Now, I know that many attorneys practice because they love the law, but most of us are in it to make a living, too. And making a living requires collecting payment for the services we provide to our clients.
Unfortunately, law school doesn’t teach cash flow management, and many of us start up our business without thinking about the steps involved in actually getting paid. To that end, I have a couple of suggestions:
• Be rigorous about billing. Designate specific days, at least once a month, to get the bills out. Don’t schedule any meetings that day, and don’t plan on doing any client work.
• Don’t work with deadbeats. Only work with clients who are willing to pay you. If the first words out of a prospect’s mouth are “what is it going to cost?” send that person on his or her way. You don’t lose money on the cases you don’t take.
• Figure out a way to capture your time. If you bill hourly and have trouble tracking your time, ask your assistant to interview you at the end of the day about what you have worked on. Have him/her actually create the time records. If you do this, it’s likely you won’t lose as much billable time because you haven’t documented it, and you won’t be subjected to the physical task of logging your time yourself.
• Raise your prices. Make sure your prices are high enough so you make a profit. I know that many attorneys are afraid that if they charge too much they’ll lose clients. However, a wise man once told me to think of it this way: if you double your prices and lose half your clients, you’ll still be making the same amount of money.
Please let me know how this helps you!