When a law firm performs legal services for clients, it’s critical that law firms perform work that is competent, communicative and diligent. It’s also critical that lawyers put the performance of their legal services at the forefront.
At the same time, lawyers need to get paid for the work that they do as well — unless they are performing pro bono legal services. When lawyers get paid for the work that they do, the expenses of the law firm get paid, including the lights literally staying lit at the law office. It also means that the lawyer and employees of the firm can get paid for their work so that their families can get fed.
In many law firms, however, accounts receivables can turn into a significant problem. This is particularly true where lawyers are billing hourly for the work that they perform. If you talk to lots of lawyers, many complain about their accounts receivables. In some law firms, accounts receivables can result in some law firms having significant financial problems.
Many lawyers want to know what they can do to minimize accounts receivables. In other words, many law firms are looking for various tangible solutions to the problem. Obviously, there are certain tangible things lawyers and law firms can do to minimize accounts receivables. While sending billing invoices regularly, monitoring accounts receivables more closely and/or communicating with clients about them more effectively or taking other proactive actions, etc., is generally helpful, many lawyers and law firms miss the simplest of solutions that are out there.
The most important aspect to minimizing accounts receivables is never forgetting that happy clients generally pay. Sure, not all happy clients pay. Some happy clients might try to escape paying their legal bill — even if they are happy. In some instances, the client might have financial difficulties that make it hard for them to pay.
But the reality is that if the client knows that you did the very best for them, most happy clients will pay — or will ultimately pay when able. At the same time, when the client is unhappy with the services, don’t be surprised when they do not pay. Put simply, happy clients generally pay, while unhappy clients generally do not.
This means that if you want to minimize accounts receivables, client satisfaction is likely the first step to consider. In other words, you should look at ways to make as many clients happy as possible, including considering the following:
- Are you being as responsive as you can to your clients by returning all phone calls and emails promptly?
- Are you prepared for court dates and hearings such that the client is happy with your advocacy on their behalf?
- Do you look the part of a polished lawyer by ensuing that you look professional at all times?
- When a client get upset, angry or irritated, do you have the bedside manner to address the client’s concerns with genuine empathy and appropriate boundaries?
- Are you knowledgeable about the areas of law in which you practice by ensuring that you are conducting appropriate research?
- Do you have the staff to assist while you are away from the office or in court?
- Do you communicate well about the progress of the case and the potential pitfalls?
- Is your written work thoughtful and of a high quality?
Obviously, there are lots of other possibilities as well in terms of increasing client satisfaction. It is true as well that some clients can be hard to please. There might be times where you have done everything right and certain clients are still unhappy.
But the reality is that the first item to focus on in terms of decreasing accounts receivable is to focus on client satisfaction. After that, you can really start looking at other tangible ways to minimize accounts receivables.
If you have any thoughts, feel free to share them below.