Tuesday, June 06, 2006

The Value of Your Expertise: Be Willing to Say "No"

Long-time readers and clients are doubtless familiar with our mantra, "If you are never turned down because of your rate, you aren't charging enough."

Attorneys may choose an expert based on any one or more of a variety of factors (primarily the "likeability factor" but that's a complete article in itself). But attorneys almost never pick one expert over another simply because he or she has the lower fee; they want to represent the client's interests and win the case!

In fact, a low rate can work against you, in that cost is frequently equated with value. If your rates are not in the mid to high range for experts in your field, it can indicate to some potential prospects that you must not be that good.

With that in mind, be willing to say "No" to potential clients who ask you to discount your rates (they are usually the ones who are difficult to work with and hard to collect from too). Value your knowledge, experience, and expertise and charge for it accordingly.

With 1,104,706 attorneys out there (ABA Market Research Dept., 2005), and growth trends in litigation showing no signs of waning, a scarcity of cases and potential clients is not a problem. It's simply a matter of achieving a certain level of visibility with those attorneys who may need your services and consistently communicating with them.

If you...

1) Adopt the attitude, "there is an abundance of available work out there"

2) Implement a strategic, legal-appropriate marketing plan to consistently communicate your value and increase your credibility in the eyes of potential clients, and

3) Be confident and assured of the worth of your services

...you CAN successfully charge and get paid the fees you deserve.

Communicate your value, charge what you're worth and say "no" to bargain shoppers.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I agree completely. A colleague recently recommended me to a expert witness panel that wanted me to discount my fee by $100 an hour. OK, I agreed to do so. Then they told me they would not pay me by retainer up front, but would issue a check within a week of receiving an itemized invoice. OK, I agreed to that, too. Then I got my first case from them, with a cover letter stating I would get paid within a month of sending out an invoice, and they would not pay for "research time." At that point, I called them back to discuss this new requirement, and yes, they meant that they would not pay for any literature searches or review of pertinent literature, only for time in reviewing records, transcripts, and preparing reports, and for testimony. This was the deal-breaker for me. Not only would I have to discount my fee, and wait for payment [for a longer period than agreed to], I would not get paid for all the time I put into a case, either. I sent the case back to them, and told them I would not work for them. More business is good, but I don't need their business that badly that I am willing to discount my fees, wait for payment, and then do some work for free.