Are Your Rates Negotiable?

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Personal Productivity for Lawyers

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Law school does a great job of helping you think logically and rationally—some people would call that thinking like a lawyer. One thing law school rarely covers, however, is the business aspect of being a lawyer.

Many potential clients shop for a lawyer like anything else—by shopping around for the best rate. Should you make your fees negotiable?

Your fee is your fee

When you go to the doctor’s office, do you try and bargain with the receptionist? Unlikely. At the same time, you could conceivably call around and ask what certain medical providers charge for a procedure, and ER visit, etc. Even then, however, people generally do not try and bargain on the price.

You can argue the same thing for lawyers. Your fee is what your fee is. Just because another attorney charges a lower fee, or higher fee, does not mean you should alter your rate. Clients should feel welcome to call around and ask for fee quotes from other attorneys. Comparing prices, however, is different from bargaining for a better rate.

Lowering your rate rarely leads to anything good

Telling yourself you can lower your fee because “this is an easy case” is a recipe for disaster. Those are inevitably the last words of an attorney who ends up burning twice as many hours on the “easy case.”

You can end up resenting your client based on your decision to lower your rate. You may feel underpaid and under appreciated. All of this can lead to a caustic attorney-client relationship, which is never a good thing.

If your client does not feel you are worth your price, will that ever result in a good attorney-client relationship? That seems unlikely. Stick to your quoted fees and you will be happier in the long run.

(Photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/oblivion/2474368767)

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