A champion bankruptcy price shopper called the office one morning. To be fair, she didn’t call, her nephew did the dirty work for her. The call went like this:
“Good morning, Balena Law Firm, this is Deb speaking”
“How much do you charge for a bankruptcy?”
“Please give me your contact information so we can set a time for you to come in.”
“I’m calling for my aunt. She’s at work. She told me to call around to find the cheapest attorney. She works and can only come in after 4:30 in the afternoon”
“Let’s pick a time for her to come in to talk”
“No, she wants a list of the cheapest bankruptcy lawyers and she will then choose who she will call for an appointment.
“Once she’s ready have her call. Thank you for calling. Goodbye.”
I won’t run the race to the bottom for this woman’s money. I examine what a client needs and I recommend a course of action to meet those needs. I do not compete with new, inexperienced lawyers for business. Maybe she will get lucky and not suffer the consequence of a low-cost lawyer who doesn’t know the ropes.
This client wants to define the attorney client relationship from when the meeting will be, to how much the case will cost, and what will be done and when. I can’t help but wonder if she was this discerning with her debt. Did she ask the credit card issuers how much her payments will be when she maxed out the cards, missed a few payments, and the interest pushed 30%? I doubt it.
A client who is only guided by the lowest price is a problem client:
- She will miss appointments.
- She will not provide follow up paperwork in a timely and complete fashion.
- She will be late with payments.
- She will demand we drop everything to address the emergency her lack of attention inevitably creates.
How does this happen? From the outset she has no respect for my time. It has no value because she isn’t paying for it. Experience is a wonderful teacher on this count.
When you evaluate who will be your bankruptcy lawyer you are making a serious choice of who can get the job done, who can advise you how to conduct affairs going forward, and who can react to mistakes you may have made getting to the bankruptcy decision. Saving a few coins should be at the bottom of your concerns list.
This person is missing out on the opportunity of having her situation evaluated by an attorney with a wealth of bankruptcy knowledge and experience. My analysis includes a decision of what will be a fair fee for the work her case needs. Her needs may well deserve a fee she considers acceptable. I can offer payment arrangements very few local lawyers know are even possible. Her approach seals the fact she will never know.
I am happy not to be on her short list.