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The wealthiest clients can afford to pay hundreds of dollars an hour for representation. The poorest may be able to find a lawyer for free. It's those in the middle that can be the hardest to attract. For, while Internet marketing has made it easier to get your name out to middle class clients, the rise of the Internet has also made it easier for cost-conscious clients to shop around, or even to pursue alternative legal services instead of hiring a lawyer.
When it comes to attracting middle class clients, how can you stand out from the crowd? Flat rates may be the answer.
Using Flat Rates to Attract Clients
More lawyers are experimenting with flat rates as a way to recruit new clients. The Philadelphia firm Freiwald Law recently started offering flat rate services for estate, health care, and elder care planning, the Legal Intelligencer reports. The program, Community Legal Advisors, is a switch form the firm's regular litigation focus, but it's one that managing partner Aaron Freiwald thinks makes sense: flat fees don't just bring in clients for those services, but for their future legal needs as well.
"Once we're helping someone with a will, we're going to be that family's lawyer, so I think this is also a way that other practice areas [can grow] as well," he told the Intelligencer.
And there are, of course, firms that have been offering flat fee services for years. Another Philadelphia-area lawyer has been offering flat fee services for 25 years. Larry Lefkowitz, a solo practitioner, posts his flat rates on his website. His main struggle isn't with getting clients, but with looking "affordable" instead of "cheap," Lefkowitz told the Intelligencer.
But Can You Afford It?
If you're considering experimenting with flat rates, it can require a bit of calculation. You'll need to come up with a rate that will fairly compensate you and take into account your average workload, while also being affordable enough to make your services attractive to middle class clients.
Thankfully, you don't need to go back to grad school for an accounting degree. There are a few online tools that could be useful. You can use Lawyerist's online hourly rate calculator, for example. I know -- we're not talking about hourly rates! But, if you can approximate the average hours you spend on a matter, and what hourly rate you would need to charge, combining the two can give you a reasonable flat rate. Or, if you want to see how you can grow while charging flat rates, FindLaw's Lawyer Marketing has an awesome growth calculator that can help you plan your expansion.