Collecting Your Fee: Getting Paid from Intake to Invoice

By in Legal Services on May 9, 2013

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By following Ed Poll’s recommendations, you can ensure that your collection process is controllable and more efficient, resulting in satisfied clients and a healthier bottom line.

One thought on “Collecting Your Fee: Getting Paid from Intake to Invoice

  1. A. Nye "Al Nye The Lawyer Guy"
    1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
    3.0 out of 5 stars
    If your clients don’t pay their bills, this book has some helpful hints on collecting, April 18, 2011
    A. Nye “Al Nye The Lawyer Guy” (Portland, Maine USA) –

    This review is from: Collecting Your Fee: Getting Paid from Intake to Invoice (Paperback)

    In his preface, Mr. Poll reports that when he was asked to write this book he wondered what more he could write that hadn’t been already discussed in his other work, The Attorney and Law Firm Guide to The Business of Law, 2nd Edition. After reading both books, I must confess that Collecting Your Fee offers little more than what was contained in the chapters on pricing, billing and collecting your fees contained in The Business of Law. If your budget allowed the purchase of only one of these books, The Business of Law is the clear choice.

    Notwithstanding that disclaimer, if you are merely interested in sound guidance and some new ideas about getting paid your legal fees, this book fits the description. Mr. Poll’s advice is practical and direct. He soundly advises that the best way to improve your billings is to create and maintain good client relationships.

    In the first few paragraphs of Chapter One, Mr. Poll makes clear that this book is about “improving your relationship with each of your clients and setting the proper expectations with new clients.” If your client is paying your bill on a timely basis each month, your relationship is working.

    “If the client owes you a great deal of money and shows very little inclination to pay it, your relationship is clearly on the rocks.”

    The book takes you to the beginning of the relationship with the client and gives concrete examples of how to properly inform your client that that you expect to be paid. Mr. Poll’s advice is that you should conduct the initial interview as if you will have a collection problem in the future – thus forcing yourself to become clear about what you expect from your client.

    Next comes an excellent discussion of fee agreements and engagement letters – matters all too often overlooked by the busy practitioner. Mr. Polls includes a chapter on the importance of keeping accurate time records, establishing periodic billing, preparing detailed, dignified bills and using bills as marketing opportunities.

    The final chapters of the book discuss collections, either in-house or using collection agencies or filing suit. Careful consideration must be given to whether it makes economic sense to spend more time and money to collect a past due bill or else simply cut your losses.

    The Appendix contains various examples of New Client Intake Forms, Checklists, Sample Fee Agreements, Status Reports, Budgets, Sample Detailed Bills, Sample Collection Letters, and how software packages like Tabs III and PCLAW generate bills.

    This slim book is geared toward solo and small firm lawyers – especially those just starting out. It would also be especially helpful to those lawyers suffering from a constant backlog of clients who never seem to pay their bills on time. Little original information is presented here; but if a review of the basics can lead to an improvement in prompt payment, the advice in this book should be welcome in any firm.

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