When To Start Talking About Your Legal Fees
Earlier this week, I had the honor of presenting Failing at the Finish Line at the MNCLE Family Law Institute. My formal presentation centered on the value of a well-honed new client intake process and how it can affect your bottom line.
But my favorite part was the open Q & A.
One audience member asked how other attorneys introduce their costs, specifically while remaining empathetic to the potential client’s personal situation.
As you can imagine, opinions varied.
But what became clear was actually a reinforcement of the very practices I’d just spoken to. Legal consumers are facing uncertain times and the cost of legal representation is just one of many things they’re balancing at any moment. Being up front with them about your retainer or fee structure more often than not will be considered honest and straightforward customer service.
For one attorney, the solution was to include a money discussion as part of the standard intake practices at her firm. Not only did this allow potential clients to know where they stood right away, it served as a screening method for those clients who might not be able to afford her services.
Continuing the talk, another attorney pointed out that even bad news can be a chance to grow your referral network. Her firm kept a list of free or lower-cost legal resources for those callers who weren’t going to turn into clients. Her team was still able to provide a service, but not at the expense of her own firm’s finances.
For some lawyers in the audience, the timing of a cost discussion was a question of what’s more important to them. Some are willing to risk “wasted” time by giving a lot of upfront attention to a client who might not be able to afford them. Still others are comfortable receiving fewer leads by effectively screening out potential clients with a clear pricing discussion early on.
All of this led up to a few final thoughts by my colleague, Steve Stauff. He pointed out that your price is a reflection of the value you provide. You need not feel ashamed or embarrassed by it. People understand that good legal representation costs money. What may be awkward to you is probably inevitable to the folks on the other side of your desk – most of whom are going to wind up hiring you if they can. Remember, they did their shopping around online before even calling your firm.
All in all, it was an excellent chance to hear what’s on the minds of our clients. If taking care of your customers is on your mind, download a copy of our intake white paper, Failing At The Finish Line today.