Four Minute Fixation 3: Rule Number 1 - Get Paid First

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Get Paid In AdvanceMoney makes your law firm go ‘round.  Without it, you are out of business. The most important conversation you have with your client is the one where you explain how you get paid.

But before we get into the foolish things lawyers do instead of getting money in advance, let me say: I love contingency fees and success fees (where permissible and advantageous).  They align your interests with the interests of your client.  You can make more money by leveraging your expertise, skill and knowledge.  That’s not what this article and video are about.

So contingency lawyers can move on to the next video. There’s nothing for you here.

There is one topic I repeatedly have trouble convincing lawyers to adopt.  That topic:

Get Paid in Advance

Here is the video:

Some lawyers are actually resistant to this pragmatic business strategy.

Can you believe it?

If you twist logic, you can make a case for doing the work and chasing clients down later.  Here are the three most common reasons lawyers give when they say they cannot get paid before rendering legal services:

Getting Paid in Advance is a Competitive Disadvantage

The twisted logic goes like this: Everyone else bills in arrears. I have to do it too or nobody will work with me.

That’s just crazy.

If you provide better value, have a distinct competitive advantage, and offer your clients and prospective clients a better experience, your billing practices are irrelevant. People will follow any reasonable procedures you have in place.

Create a law firm that is better than the rest and do business on your own terms.

I Will Not Know How Much to Bill

If you bill by the hour you set yourself up for this objection.  You are not certain how many hours you will work on any particular matter.  That means you can’t bill in advance, right?


You simply estimate how many hours you will bill (after an initial interview with the client) and multiply that number by your hourly rate.  Then you add 10-20% to that number as a “buffer” and ask the client for a deposit in that amount.

When the matter is concluded, you refund any unused funds to the client.  Get that part. You hand him a check at the end (not the other way around).

My Clients Do Not Have the Money

I love this one.

Some attorneys actually say: “I can’t bill in advance because my clients don’t have enough money to pay me. They need a payment plan.”

This is not Wal-Mart. You don’t buy legal services on layaway. If someone does not have enough money, they are a horrible client. Move on.

If you consistently come across people who do not have money to work with you, you should immediately implement an aggressive marketing plan to attract better clients.

Bottom Line

I’m sure you can come up with a few other reasons why you cannot get paid in advance.  No matter what you conjure up, it is simply bad business to do the work and wait for your money.  This philosophy puts your business in constant jeopardy.

It’s foolish.  Don’t do it.

Here are the most recent videos in the Four Minute Fixation Series:

Four Minute Fixation 1: Follow-Up After Networking

Do you go to lots of networking events and have trouble converting your new contacts into referral sources? Here is a video to help change that.

Four Minute Fixation 2: How to Get More Clients from Speaking Engagements

I’m sure this has happened to you. You give a great speech and you get no business. This video will fix that situation for you.  Watch it now and you’ll be amazed at how productive your next speaking engagement will be.

Direct Domain for Videos:

I’m pleased to announce that we have set up a domain that will take you directly to section of the website where all the videos are cataloged.  Simply spell out and you will be transported through cyberspace to a page with a cadre of close-ups of my ever-expanding face.