I was talking to a business owner recently, who is not a client, and he said, “I would rather get hauled off before a judge and maybe thrown in jail than to call my lawyer. It’s just too expensive.” I happen to know his lawyer. I have a pretty good idea of that lawyer’s rates. I don’t blame the client for being hesitant to pick up the phone.
So here’s the problem: Your lawyer can’t help you if he or she does not know what you need, or what questions you have. And he or she will never know if you don’t communicate. What is standing in the way of communication for so many clients is the billable hour. Clients are very often reluctant to call and start the meter running with no idea of what the cost will be.
Hourly billing is fine for the biller, and sometimes works out alright for the client as well. But too often, the uncertain cost and a fear of large invoices means that advice is only sought at a time of crisis. And when the client only calls in times of crisis, it will always be expensive. Regular communications will help with issue-spotting and will get questions addressed much earlier, with fewer emergencies.
Think about bringing on outside general counsel. Think about agreeing to a level monthly fee instead of widely fluctuating monthly invoices and questions that go unanswered for fear of the cost. A level monthly fee will result in both better service and substantial savings.
That business owner who was too price-nervous to call his lawyer? I gave him my card.