An Offer They Can’t Refuse: Getting Clients to Pay, Part 2

Alright, so Monday I talked about all the reasons I hate it when a client doesn’t pay their bill. The main reason, as you might have gleaned, is because I provide a service, like every attorney out there, which requires me to use my knowledge, time, resources, and professional expertise to help people that can barely count to 11 even if they take off their pants first. This is not an easy task, and frequently leads me to question my life choices.

Today we’re gonna forge the fuck forward by talking about the four options frequently focused on when a client refuses to pay, and since it’ll be a long one, let’s just go right into this shit.

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An Offer They Can’t Refuse: Getting Clients to Pay, Part 1

Let’s take a minute here and talk about the clients that stiff you on the bill. I’ve talked about this stuff tangentially in the past, but then it was always sort of in the vein of “how to avoid getting stiffed when picking your client.” Now? Now I want to talk about it in a little different of a light. I want to talk about what you do when a client is stiffing your ass on the invoices, and what options you may have.

First, though, let me say this post was supposed to go up last week. However, I used a hypothetical in the first version of all of this shit that greatly resembled a situation that arose when a client tried to fucking stiff me on my bill. So, discretion being the better part of valor, and realizing that people may take a hypothetical as being about them, I took that post out of the fucking rotation on the site. Better to keep my license and lose a post, you know?

That’s all resolved now, though, so I feel free to go on my mini-rampage about the assholes who come to you in tears begging you to help, and then afterwards decide that your effort was, for some fucking reason, sub-par and not deserving of compensation despite the fact you hit them a home run on a case that was based around shit like “My dog drank soapy water and shit out bubbles, therefore I am entitled to $1,000,000,000 and a new car.”

So, buckle the fuck in buddy, cause over the next two days we’re gonna go full bore on the bastards that think they can steal from me.  Today is part 1, which should help you shitty motherfuckers understand why a lawyer stiffed on their bill has a goddamn right to take it personally.

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The CYA Letter: A Staple of Stupid Clients

Clients, the final moronic entity that stands between you and happiness. Maybe a settlement offer has come in that’s more than fair and you communicate it to the client, who steadfastly refuses to accept it despite the fact they have no money left and are so far behind on their bills even the bankruptcy court is saying “Damn man…” Maybe it’s you telling the client that great idea they’re having is most definitely illegal and will end in an audit and possible prosecution. Maybe it’s the client who wants to enter into a contract that you advise against, multiple times, and ends up owing the guy down the street, who wasn’t a party to the contract in the first damn place, their life savings, car, house, wife, and dog. No matter the situation, every lawyer is dreadfully aware of the fact that when you tell a client Option A is probably the best choice, there’s even odds the client will invent Option Z out of thin air and doggedly pursue it, ignoring the fact that they’re paying you to help them.

Generally, given my longstanding dislike for clientele, this would be a win-win for me. I get paid, I do my job ethically, and an idiot who had just enough in the way of functioning fucking brain cells to realize they needed a lawyer but not enough to listen gets their comeuppance. Life in those situations is a little slice of heaven, right up until the client tries to sue you or bring a bar complaint saying your advice was wrong and their horrors are directly your fault.

“No, Boozy,” I hear you cry, “You mean clients don’t take responsibility f0r their own stupid ass decisions? Say it ain’t so!”

Okay smartass. I get it.  This isn’t exactly a shocking revelation, but let me as you something:

Did you paper the file with a CYA letter?  No? Well, have fun defending yourself.

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Problem Client Identification: 3 More Species of Problem Client

We’ve established several times on this blog that I’m not the biggest fan of clients. Like most professionals who have to, in some way, deal with the general public, lawyers are genuinely convinced that the practice of law would be a wonderful thing if, you know, it wasn’t for the hordes that beat down our doors. But, because only law professors and federal judges get to be esoteric about the practice of law, here’s the sad truth of the legal profession: we all have to deal with people that, under any other set of circumstances, we wouldn’t want to touch with someone else’s twenty foot pole.

Now, I mean, don’t get me wrong, I like helping people out. But Jesus fucking Christ can clients become irritating. They get to a point where they’re like yapping little dogs at times, you know, the sort that you shove in a purse and zipped closed, not caring that they’re likely shitting all over your new iPhone just so long as they’re not barking at you for once. Add into this the fact that clients often think they know exactly how you should be, you know, practicing goddamn law, what with their mastery of Google and the degree they have in an entirely unrelated field, and you end up in the worst fucking nightmare that a lawyer can have.  The phone never stops ringing, the emails never stop coming in, and the small matter that you took on for a flat fee because it was relatively simple and should have been quick and easy is now a thing that makes you sit bolt upright in bed at night considering how many other career paths you could have fucking followed if only you’d dragged your head out of your ass long enough to heed the warnings of the broken fucking shells of senior attorneys.

But, hey, that’s the life we fucking live, right?  In the past I talked about how to identify problem clients and gave you two types: The Junior Lawyer and the Speed Demon, but I realize that the multitude of problem clients extend far fucking beyond just those two particular types of dickweeds, so today let’s take a look at 3 more clients that make lawyers run for the goddamn hills, desperately in search of the Fountain of Scotch that restores our faith in humanity.

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Don’t Let Toddlers or Clients Dress Themselves

Lawyers as a rule can at least figure out how to dress themselves. It’s actually one of the few things we do learn in law school, how to present ourselves to the court and others with the required amount of professionalism. I mean, that isn’t to say we didn’t occasionally go to class in pajama pants and a wife-beater with a Big Gulp of coffee and whiskey to carry us through the hours of Torts and Contracts that got shoved down our throats. We definitely did. But when the rubber met the road, we at least scraped together enough money for a cheap-ass suit because we knew that, to at least some degree, appearance matters.

I mean, for the most part we do. Except for that one motherfucker who went to court dressed like Thomas Jefferson, but he isn’t a lawyer anymore. Plus, in the case where he dressed up like Thomas Jefferson he was representing himself, and any lawyer can tell you that dressing like an idiot for court is a grand client tradition.

Clients, bless their brainless fucking heads, apparently don’t grasp this concept. Take a look at any of those “hahaha FUNNY, now click one of our 100 ads” websites and you’ll find a section dedicated to people who wear stupid shit to court. Be it a famous actress wearing a goddamn blue wig to appear before the judge or a murderer being sentenced while wearing a shirt the reads “Genius,” I’m pretty well fucking convinced that clients have some sort of shadowy cabal where they all get together and think of the quickest way to give their attorney a heart attack before a court appearance.

For lawyers, this means we have to play a role in addition to counselor and advocate. We have to be a client’s goddamn fashion consultant.

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