Georgetown Law School's Center for the Study of the Legal Profession recently suggested that earlier realization rates of 92% have gone down to a historic low of 85%. That means for every dollar billed, the law firm is collecting only 85 cents.
My suspicion is that these numbers are reflective of "Big Law," and not the profession as a whole, certainly not the sole practitioner who comprises the bulk of the profession. That is why I wrote: Collecting Your Fee: Getting Paid from Intake to Invoice, published by the American Bar Association. Few lawyers understand the difference and fewer can cite the numbers from their own law practice. This is an area where additional revenue can be obtained easily, merely by paying attention to your clients payment records and understanding who doesn't pay your full bill and why ... and then dealing with this issue. This is one of the most challenging issues in my coaching/consulting practice...helping lawyers be more effective with their clients and receive a higher percentage of their billings from satisfied clients.
Ed discusses 8 steps that law practitioners can take to survive a recession.
Ed offers 5 ways to increase your law firm's revenue.
1. Emphasize collections.
2. Hire lateral lawyers to meet specific demands, a new practice area, a new need.
3. Leverage technology.
4. Create a cooperative compensation model that emphasizes the law firm as an institution.
5. Outsource functions that are better done by others. Delegate.
“… a client who genuinely respects you and the work you did will pay your bill in a timely manner.” ED Poll (2003)
In meeting Ed a few years ago and having the opportunity to speak with him on several occasions, I can’t help but say that those few words embody AR collections. Not just law firm collections, but all collections. When we communicate with our clients, we need to keep in mind that every communication either gets us closer to payment or further from a payment. Our motivation, if you haven’t already seen it, should be closer to receiving payment!