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5 Ways to Collect Unpaid Fees From Clients

By Andrew Lu | Last updated on

If you poll attorneys on what it is they most hate about their jobs, collecting money from clients will probably rank near the top of the list.

A recent survey found that for the most part attorneys only get paid for a fraction of the hours they work during the day. The reasons weren't given as to why the attorneys were not getting paid, but one reason may be that they simply could not get clients to pay up.

What can an attorney do to collect money from clients?

Here are five steps from Top Floor Legal that attorneys can take when looking to get paid:

  1. Ask the Client to Pay. Passive aggressiveness does not work. Let your client know that he or she owes you money. Oftentimes, your client may not know or may have forgotten that they owe you.

  2. Have Someone Call the Client. If you are not comfortable with confrontation over money, you can hire a third party bill collector to call the client. Outside pressure may convince your client to pay up, and can signal to your client that you're serious.

  3. Understand Your Client's Situation. Talk to your client and understand why he or she cannot pay. If there is a momentary financial crisis, you may forebear from collecting for a few weeks or agree upon a partial payment plan.

  4. Draft a Formal Demand Letter. If you can't get a hold of the client or if the client is not willing to work with you, you may want to draft a formal demand letter asking for payment. This can be the basis of any legal action.

  5. File a Lawsuit. You don't want to be in the business of suing your clients, so this is definitely a last resort. But if your client owes you a significant sum and refuses to pay, you may be left with no resort but to seek legal action after exhausting your state bar's fee dispute process.

Collecting money from clients may be the least desirable part of your job. These five steps can help you get paid, but hopefully you won't have to utilize all five.

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