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Think You Want to Raise Fees?: Think Again
From:
Edward Poll, J.D., M.B.A., CMC -- Law Firm Management Expert Edward Poll, J.D., M.B.A., CMC -- Law Firm Management Expert
Los Angeles , CA
Tuesday, December 29, 2015

 
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Look to yourself and family first and the business will take care of itself as you cherish the last few days of 2015.

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Think You Want to Raise Fees?: Think Again

Lawyers will want to—and should—raise their fees at various times throughout their careers. However, the time is not always right for raising fees, and it is important to know when NOT to raise fees.

Client Says No

If the client resists a fee increase, and either the client or the matter being handled is important to you, think seriously about balancing your economic interests with your personal desire. If, after conscious deliberation, you want to continue the work with this client, first seek to obtain an agreement to a fee increase at a certain date in the future.

Client Under the Gun

What if you are on the eve of trial or in the midst of a sensitive negotiation? Never use the sensitivity of time to raise fees. Your client will see it as attempted extortion and will accept it, if at all, only with great hostility. And that will lead inevitably to bad-mouthing.

Acceptance of Retainer

If you have already agreed to a retainer, you should not raise fees. Most retainers are intended to cover the entire cost of the matter or to be a monthly retainer to cover services without reference to hours worked. In these circumstances, clients will be annoyed if you say you cannot work more this month because the hours already worked exceed your original estimate. That is the nature of a retainer: it is intended to be a fixed sum. You keep the difference when you work less than you estimated, and the client benefits when you work more than you estimated. Clients will be miffed if you seek to modify the arrangement in midstream. If the work continues to be out of balance with the retainer for an extended time, raise the issue with your client before increasing the retainer.

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CLIENTS SAY:

"Ed Poll created and presented your three-day workshop "Starting, Operating, Growing and Profiting from the Practice of Law" for our Law School, the Continuing Legal Education Committee and the Washington Law School Foundation. Ed's professional management skills and presentation talents provided our alumni and students with an outstanding program. The evaluations, both oral and written, were excellent and demonstrated that his audience agreed. One evaluator was particularly appreciative of the thought-provoking and interesting new concepts. Another said, "I have a much better understanding of what I'm to do -- I'm energized. Thank you!" Ed had a major impact on the future of our attendees; this is a unique quality and we are most appreciative of his efforts to create such an interesting and informative program. I enjoyed working with him and look forward to doing so again"

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John F. Rapp

Director, CLE

University of Washington


"Ed Poll's efforts resulted in the success of our Mid Year CLE Program event. During the planning stages of this Mid Year Program, the Section's leadership indicated that if 75 lawyers attended the program, it would be considered a success. With our program attendance at over 100 attendees, the leadership clearly is very pleased with our efforts and want to continue bringing programs to the solo and small firm practitioner. We look forward to this challenge of making the Mid Year Program a regular event"

RJM

Lee S. Kolczun, Chair

Sole Practitioners and Small Firms Committee

American Bar Association

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Ed Poll, LawBiz® Management

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Edward Poll, J.D., M.B.A.., CMC
Principal
LawBiz Management Company
Venice, CA
800-837-5880