Archive for the ‘Managing a Law Practice’ Category

As I mentioned in a couple of my postslast week, my firm recently had to dissociate with a case as a result of a dispute between a client and our co-counsel over the fee agreement. Fee disputes can be very delicate and dangerous territory — and, I imagine, are probably very common — so it’s best to think ahead about how to prevent them from occurring. Here are some tips: Carefully craft — and communicate — retainer agreement Put everything related to the scope of representation and the fee structure — and any changes to these — in writing. Explain your billing policy in your engagement agreement explaining your billing policy, including how frequently the client will receive statements, what you expect the client to pay for (costs, expenses), whether the client is expected to maintain a certain minimum balance in trust form with which to pay you (and whether you […]

First, discuss the unpaid bills with the client. This might give you insight into why she is not paying. (E.g., maybe she didn’t understand the payment arrangement you made.) Second, inform the client that if she fails to pay the past due amounts, you will have to withdraw from representation. ABA Model Rule 1.16 and most states’ ethical rules allow a lawyer to withdraw from representing a client for nonpayment of fees if the client “has been given reasonable warning that the lawyer will withdraw unless the obligation is fulfilled.” Third, if the client agrees to pay, secure the commitment to pay by a certain date in writing. If you do not receive payment by the agreed date, withdraw from the representation. Resist the temptation to keep the case based on the client’s promise to pay later. This will make it significantly more difficult, if not impossible, to withdraw later. In […]