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Solo In Chicago

...empowering the Second City's entrepreneurial legal community

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Fee collection commentary

There's a regular column in Chicago Lawyer magazine written by Chicago Attorney Joe DuCanto regarding family law matters. It's an often very useful column by a seemingly experienced family law attorney. His column in the September 2006 issue discuss fee collection in family law cases. He makes some good if rather unoriginal points regarding fee collection: select clients carefully, be up-front about the costs of good legal services, keep the client informed, bill them while the emotions are positive.

His last paragraph reads:

But in the meantime, understand that litigation and collection of fees don't belong together. If you must litigate your fees, brothers and sisters, you've lost not only your money but your professional dignity as well.

Is that a bit much Joe? Is the use of hard collection action somehow a loss of dignity? I think I take issue with his perspective. At its core I suppose this is the old professional versus business argument regarding the practice of law. For the record we haven't sued any clients over fees although we do use a third-party collection manager to "remind" clients when they get behind. I just find that perspective a bit too ivory tower. If you're out of business, you're no longer "professional" period, dignified or not.

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