The following post is an excerpt from our free e-book, Ridiculously Remarkable Legal Billing. Better billing practices improve your law firm and your life. Here’s the second one from the book we identify.
Whatever “slow pay” instinct a client has doesn’t even start until she gets the bill to begin with.
Let’s start with the obvious: Just like Wayne Gretkzy, who reminded us that he didn’t score on 100% of the shots he didn’t take, I usually don’t pay bills I don’t receive.
Most clients don’t think to themselves, Gosh, I haven’t heard anything from my lawyer in awhile; I should send her a check just to make sure she’s OK.
Clients simply will not pay a bill they haven’t received. The first step to getting a client to put your bill into a “must pay” queue is to get it out to your client in the first place. There are exceptions (e.g., bankruptcy or fiduciary situations where advance court approval may be required), but even in those situations the principle is the same: the clock for payment doesn’t start ticking until the bill is received.
Rule #2: Whatever “slow pay” instinct a client has doesn’t even start until she gets the bill to begin with.
Of course, if you’re able to secure an ethically compliant retainer, you’ve gone a long way toward limiting this particular problem. Nonetheless, a bill is still required to draw down that retainer.