We’ve all been there. Non-paying clients can be incredibly frustrating, especially if you went out of your way to offer a reduced rate or special payment plan. But before you resort to punitive measures, take a moment to think it through.
- A literal doubling of your fee is likely to be challenged as excessive. Review Oregon RPC 1.5.
- Consider whether the proposed punitive action will make a difference. Do you truly believe that doubling your fee will motivate the client to pay?
- Collections can be a landmine of legal traps and pitfalls.
What Should You Do If the Client Doesn’t Pay?
In the case of non-paying clients, it may be appropriate and necessary to withdraw. If so, take care to abide by your ethical responsibilities. If you represent the client before a tribunal and must file a formal Motion to Withdraw, read and understand Oregon Formal Opinion No. 2011-185 – Withdrawal from Litigation: Client Confidences. If you have any doubt about what you can or cannot tell the court, seek advice from the Oregon State Bar General Counsel’s office or contact a lawyer colleague who specializes in ethics defense.
You should also consider ordering one (or more) of the free CLEs offered by the PLF on managing law firm finances:
- 50 Shades of Green: Building a Profitable Solo or Small Firm Practice
- Building and Maintaining a Profitable and Efficient Law Practice
- Increasing Revenue: Updated Strategies for Attracting New Clients and More Effectively Managing an Existing Client Base
- Money Matters
These CLEs will help you to:
- Banish personal habits that cause you to under earn
- Identify profitable practice areas
- Analyze overhead, liquidity ratios, budget, turnover, and realization rates
- Establish effective billing practices
- Reduce accounts receivable
- Develop case and client selection skills to eliminate payment problems
Visit the PLF Website for details. Select CLE > Past CLE.
[All Rights Reserved 2016 Beverly Michaelis]