Thursday, July 26, 2007

Payment Plan Practices

I don't have one.

Why do you?

"Because most of my clients can't afford to pay me up front."

You sure about that? Really sure?

How do you know that, when you advertise "payment plans available?"

If I know I can pay in installments without interest, why wouldn't I? Is there anyone who hasn't bought their flat screen plasma or washing machine on a one-year no payments no interest plans? Why wouldn't you? I'll keep my money as long as I can.

So will clients.

People ask, "how do you get the money up front?

I insist.

Are there exceptions? Of course. Half up front, the other half next month. Or a couple clients with monthly payments because they are those "nice young kids" that I like to represent, and really can't afford a lawyer any other way.

But as a matter of course, absolutely not.

Try it. Try it today. After your consultation, announce the fee, and when the client says "how much do you need up front, say "all of it."

Then wait and see what happens.

Payment plan practices consume lawyers. They become such a part of your daily practice that it becomes more time consuming to get paid, then to represent the client.

And don't tell me "that's the nature of the practice."

We've made it that way. It's time to stop.

Brian Tannebaum is a criminal defense attorney in Miami, Florida practicing in state and federal court. To learn more about Brian and his firm, Tannebaum Weiss, please visit