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Should You Sell Clients' Uncollected Debt?

Times are tough when you have to borrow money to pay your bills.

Well, it's about that time for more than a few law firms. And it's not just the solo practitioners working on shoe-strings.

According to reports, even some BigLaw firms are reaching for money at the end-of-the-year rope. Cadwalader, Wickersham & Taft, New York City's oldest law firm with more than 450 lawyers around the world, sold off some of its receivables to make ends meet last year.

Cadwalader saw gross revenue drop 3.7 percent to $463.5 million in 2015. Managing partner Patrick Quinn attributed the decline to lagging collections. A former partner anonymously told the American Lawyer that the firm sold off some of its receivables at the end of that year.

How Do You Respond to 'You Cost Too Much'?

Something that many solo attorneys hear perhaps all too often is the interjection: "You cost too much!" We're sure you've heard this one before.

Even with the advancement in technology making a fair number of attorney services quickly obsolete, there are still a great many tasks that should only be handled by a competent attorney. Here are a few tips for handling sticker-shocked clients.

How to Talk to Potential Clients So They Don't Proceed Pro Se

It happens to solo lawyers with an unwelcome consistency: a client walks through your door to avail himself of your legal advice and then decides to either look for cheaper options, or worse, go about his matter pro se. What do you do?

It's been more than six years since the so-called economic downturn of 2008, but many people are still unreasonably frugal. It could be that people are worried about the recent negative predictions about the market. In this climate, how do you convince these clients that going pro se could be the worst mistake of their lives?

Can You Still Get Paid Even After Losing a Case?

We've all heard of car insurance, but what about case insurance? Well, that's the basic service being offered by two personal injury lawyers out in Florida who launched their company Level Insurance last month.

It's too soon to tell if this is going to be a golden goose for them, but it does raise some interesting strategy (and ethics) questions. But with the shifting paradigms of litigation financing, we're hardly rattled anymore.

Handling Fee Splitting With an Outside Attorney

There is much confusion out there when it comes to ethically handling fees between lawyers. One of the most common scenarios involves a primary attorney (from the client's point of view) working with another attorney. But the arrangement has its ethical hazards and every practitioner should be aware of potential ethical pitfalls when splitting fees.

We'll go over one scenario here that gets people tripped up: the solo who splits fees with another on a contingency basis.

Why You Should Discuss Litigation Financing With Clients

Your clients may not be aware of litigation finance, but you should be. And you should also be aware that handling litigation finance can be like trying to catch a falling knife. And if that's the case, then you're going to need to know how and why you should talk to your clients about possibly getting a third party to pay for their litigation fees and the pitfalls that come with the game.

Like anything else, it's usually better to set out the parameters at the very beginning rather than to wait for awkwardness later on.

Handling Client Fee Arrangements -- Ethically

If you're like the majority of attorneys, you got into this business to be paid. In an ideal world, you do the work and your clients pay you upon completion -- promptly. Alas, this is not the ideal world.

Fed up with the undeniable costs of having to maintain an accounts receivable, many attorneys have implemented means that just skirt the boundaries of legal ethics in order to defray the costs of lost money and time. But what techniques can you use to ethically handle client fees? We're here to help.

Getting Money From Deadbeat Clients

It's the eternal struggle for solos. We've all been there. You render services, and you don't enforce the strict terms of the agreement. The client can't recharge her retainer because her transmission blew out, she had a family emergency -- we get it. She's out of money, or she has money and withholds payment.

No good deed goes unpunished and being the "nice" lawyer can cost you time and faith in humanity. Your lender certainly couldn't care less about your personal problems and negotiating your arrangement with them certainly won't end as favorably for you as it did your client. So, if you end up serving a deadbeat client who won't pay, what do you do?

What Practice Areas Are Best for Flat Fee Billing?

A good bit of your solo or small firm practice will be devoted to maintaining the books and making sure money is coming in. As times change, the usual practice of taking in about a third of your client's takings is becoming less and less pervasive -- and there's good reason: it costs too much to wait for the outcome of a suit. In the worse case, you might not get paid at all.

It's often preferable to have money coming in consistently. How do you accomplish that? Introducing the menu style of legal practice: flat fee billing.

Flat Fee Confusion: Earned Upon Receipt or Trust Account?

There's a lot of confusion out there (so imagine the level of non-compliance) about the proper way to handle client funds properly, particularly flat fees. Do you place these in an interest-bearing account for the benefit of the client? How do you go about your business in good faith without putting your license and practice at risk?

Unfortunately, the rules are non-universal and can be abstract and ambiguous. Here we'll look at what some sources have to say.