Go Ahead and Say It! This Is Really a Hard Time to Ask About Getting Paid

Jake KrocheskiWeekly Advisory Article

Now — don’t you feel better that you said it? Let’s face it: attorneys’ expertise is providing quality and timely service to their clients, not asking them to pay their bills. Many attorneys are not good at it, they do not like to do it and they don’t want to do it. So why should we expect changes overnight? Yes, we are living in a different economic world, but that does not mean attitudes and know-how about how to get paid are going to change just because we want them to. Remember: the definition of insanity — doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results.

So how can you start to think outside the box to best approach your clients about getting paid when they may be experiencing cash flow problems? Here are three tips that can help:

  • Your attorneys may feel anxious or uncomfortable reaching out to their clients who may be struggling. Recruit people in your firm who can help the attorneys decide what to say, either by e-mail or by phone, when asking clients about the status of payment. Help attorneys understand it’s all about taking the right customer service attitude. If you have an A/R management team or a marketing team, enlist their help in coming up with appropriate language to use.
  • Have your attorneys talk with your accounting and finance team about various payment plans and options before they contact clients — because clients may not be able to pay as they have in the past. Get attorneys to be prepared to recommend a few payment solutions that can be tailored to clients’ cash flow issues — while at the same time — making progress in getting the firm paid.
  • Schedule 15- to 30-minute meetings with each attorney to go over receivables one-by-one and determine where they need guidance. Help them develop a game plan for accounts that will lead to specific dates of when payment can be expected.