It’s that time of year that really made me laugh when I was in-house as a marketer. It’s the December to remember …to collect those outstanding fees before the 31st. It really was madness, and quite frankly I don’t know of any BigLaw firms (and others) that don’t still do that, even though it infuriates clients.

So, I was interested to see that my friend Trey Ryder, in his latest newsletter, has an article “Positive Ways To Collect Money And Maintain Relationships.” (which I’ve excerpted with permission and you can download here) It’s a seven step process, that is best introduced at the beginning of a client relationship, and not necessarily during December Madness.

The steps:

  1. Provide each new client with a schedule of fees and collection practices,
  2. Offer a reduction if paid within specified timeframe,
  3. Send a copy of invoice with your reminder note acknowledging that client may have not received original or it somehow was lost,
  4. Make sure subsequent reminders are over the lawyer’s signature, and not a billing clerk,
  5. Send reminders frequently (there is no rule that they can’t go out but every 30 days),
  6. Invite clients to pay by credit card (a lot of firms offer that option now), and
  7. Ask clients to call to arrange a payment schedule (it doesn’t have to be all or nothing, as client may be having cash flow problems).

Obviously, collections are important to the business side of any law firm. However, how you go about getting paid can have a significant impact on your lawyers’ marketing efforts at maintaining long term relationships. Biglaw could learn a few lessons about avoiding the year end frenzy by adopting some of these steps.