“I’m a lawyer, not a bank.”
– Dan Joffe, Next Law Professional Corp & LawExpand
I was looking for a great quote to start this blog post but couldn’t find one as perfect as the one in my head — “I’m a lawyer, not a bank.”
While it’s true, a lawyer is not a bank; it’s also true that you need to consider payment plans for certain target markets to grow your practice.
In this context, the more appropriate quote is:
“Lawyers hate payment plans. But love closing more clients without lowering their fees.”
That can be achieved through client payment plans.
If properly structured and managed, client payment plans can not only drive healthy cash flow but can also be the key to growing and thriving in these uncertain times.
Here’s my story on why we built LawExpand’s payment plan software.
Do I Let Business Walk Out The Door?
When I started my law firm, Next Law Professional Corporation, I targeted higher volume, lower dollar cases (e.g. criminal and traffic clients). It quickly became apparent that most clients were not able to pay my fee upfront.
That left me with three options to get paid.
First. Lower my fee and take whatever the client could afford.
Second. Keep my fee “as-is” and risk losing the client.
Or, third. Offer a payment plan.
I went with the payment plan option and started to close more clients, mostly at my targeted fee.
Collecting payments from a handful of plans wasn’t too much of a hassle. I used a spreadsheet to keep track of plan changes and reminders.
But the more clients I closed, the more I ran into missed payments, underpayments and changing dates. There were too many moving parts to keep track of.
Getting paid was getting harder.
I was spending too much time and energy chasing money. I felt like I was in the payment collection business, not running a law practice.
It was frustrating. It made me feel anxious. Frankly, it was a source of dread for me.
It was not sustainable and needed to be fixed.
I tried using the payment plan functionality in my case management software, but the features just skimmed the problem’s surface. And, my payment processing service and accounting software had even less functionality than the case management software.
Just Pay What You Owe Me (And Not Make Me Chase It)
With no solution, I was at square one with a straightforward goal:
Build a solution that would allow me to get paid from my client payment plans without wasting time and energy to get those payments.
But technology won’t solve a system or workflow problem. So, before writing one line of code, I first set out to create a rock-solid system to manage my client payment plans.
Over 12 months, I developed a payment plan system. It was an iterative process based on data from thousands of client interactions and payments.
Over time, I slowly saw results. Collection rates were rising while time invested in getting those payments was falling. And those results continued to improve with the continuous iterations.
The system worked.
(You can get my “Payment Plan Success System: 5 Steps To Collecting More Cash, Faster”. It’s free, go to LawExpand.com.)
Now, Build It
Once I proved the system’s effectiveness, I then recruited an experienced team to build the technology platform to automate the workflow.
The software was not written in a vacuum. It was implemented in real-time at my law firm. Every feature and all functionality was tested and proven with my clients.
And the results were dramatic. Collection rates significantly improved, while the time spent to collect those payments decreased (by hours every month).
Today, the software has become the backbone of my law firm.
Not only does the software help me get paid, it helps me close more clients.
My law firm is a leader in my market because, in part, I’m able to offer payment plans to clients where most of my competitors won’t (or can’t) do it.
And, with the financial impact of COVID-19, more clients will need help with their cash flow. And, with my software, I’m able to meet that need.
Today, we’re growing and thriving in this changing landscape.
It Works. And It’s Awesome
Our software can do the same for you.
The results speak for themselves.
All our users experience an improvement in payment collections while decreasing the time and energy to get those payments.
As one of our users recently told me,
“Dan, the software is just so effective. It just works. We love it!”.