How to Send Invoices that Clients are Happy to Pay


Introducing Guest Blogger Jeremie Fortenberry – 

Guest Blogs on:  How to Send Invoices that Clients are Happy to PayJeramie Fortenberry is the founder of Fortenberry Legal, a law firm that helps clients from across the United States with estate planning and probate matters. He writes about trusts, estates, and tax planning at the Probate Lawyer blog.

Billing makes me uncomfortable. When I first started practicing law (at that time with a big firm), I felt sheepish to even broach the topic with clients. It seemed uncouth to start talking about money right when I was in the process of establishing what I hoped to be a lasting relationship. Because of my reluctance to discuss fees on the front end, I relied on my engagement letter to set expectations regarding pricing. My hourly rate was buried somewhere in the letter, along with information about how time was computed and how often I would invoice. That, I thought, should be enough to deal with the uncomfortable issue of how I would be paid for my services.

Those of you who have tried this know how the story often ends. A client expects a $700.00 invoice but gets a $2,500.00 invoice. In the best circumstances, the client would call to discuss the fees. More likely, the client would either (a) drop out of sight without paying the bill or (b) pay the bill, then drop out of sight. Either way, the relationship was over.

When I started my own practice, I knew that something had to change. I began experimenting with value pricing and alternative billing structures. But more importantly, I changed the way I communicate with clients regarding fees. Today, I never have complaints regarding my bills and have an almost 100 percent collection rate. Here are a few lessons I’ve learned:

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DEBRA’S UPCOMING SPEAKING ENGAGEMENTS:

Tuesday October 23, 2012, 5:00pm

Debra will be participating on a Panel regarding Women Lawyers and Their Image,

Real and Perceived, in the Practice of Law

Texas Women Lawyers Event

South Texas College of Law

Emilie Sloan Building, 6th Floor

1303 San Jacinto Street

Houston, Texas 77002

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Thursday, November 8, 2012

Social Media and the Modern Attorney

Align your social media presence with your personal goals

Learn how to make yourself standout

Discover potential pitfalls of social media and how to protect yourself

Debra will be one of the speakers at this class

CLE Credit 1.5 (Canyon Café)

Location: Canyon Café

5000 Westheimer, Suite 250; Second level

Houston, TX 77056

Time: 5:30-7:30pm ;  Event begins at 6:00pm

Networking opportunities 5:30-6:00 • Complimentary food and beverage

RSVP: Megan Guerrie     mguerrie@gibson

MISS REPRESENTATION

“Miss Representation”  

Come view this film exposing how mainstream media contribute to the under-representation of women in positions of power and influence in America.

Debra will be participating in a panel discussion following the film.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

5-7 pm

South Texas College of Law:  Emilie Slohm

This event is open to all and light refreshments will be served.

Sponsored by Career Resource Center & Texas Women Lawyers

 

Would a Virtual Law Office Work for You?


Debra L. Bruce, JD, PCC.

Rania Combs is a wills, trusts and estates lawyer, licensed in Texas since 1994. When her spouse got transferred to North Carolina, she examined her options for practicing law there. Opening a virtual law office seemed like the solution to a challenging circumstance. She launched her virtual practice in January 2010.

Many lawyers may wonder whether a virtual law office would solve their problems, too. Here are some examples of why they might be considering it:

• Newly licensed attorneys may want to avoid the overhead and long-term commitment of a traditional brick and mortar office.
• Experienced lawyers may want to expand the geographic reach of their existing practice to garner more clients.
• Many lawyers have a thriving practice in a smaller town, but have difficulty finding locally the high caliber legal talent they need to help handle the work flow.
• Family obligations or other circumstances make it difficult for some attorneys to keep traditional office hours.
• For some attorneys, the international scope of their work demands technological innovation to serve client needs.
• Some attorneys just long to escape the snow in the winter or the heat in the summer without interrupting their law practice.

To help answer some of your questions about what it’s really like to open a virtual law practice, I interviewed Rania Combs. You can view Combs’ website at  http://www.texaswillsandtrustslaw.com/.  The interview follows: Read more «Would a Virtual Law Office Work for You?»