Birmingham Family Law Attorneys: 10 Facts About Money From Family Law Attorneys

If you give a mouse a cookie... he's going to want some milk.
If you give a mouse a cookie… he’s going to want some milk.

There is a certain time of the month that we at our firm dread. It’s the last day where we check to make sure all our billing is in, and we look at our client’s accounts, then send them updates on their case and accounts. We see their money dwindling knowing that we’ve worked hard on their case. On the one hand, we feel that we’ve worked diligently and have earned that money. On the other, we see their retainers diminishing and we know we will either have to ask for money that month or soon. Either way, we have to give them the truth on what they’ve spent out of their account. We have to show them an itemized list of what we’ve done for them. We mail them a letter with a description of our services and an invoice that states exactly what has been done, and await the response. What people don’t realize is that:

  1. Asking for more money is awkward. We don’t like having to ask for more money. That’s why we prefer bigger retainers to begin with because cases aren’t always an easy in and out of a court system. This isn’t Drop Dead Diva or Suits. This is the real life, and it takes months to get to court. We hate having to have a meeting and then segue into “So… your account is getting low… and we’re still 6 months out from court.” That’s not what we were educated to do. We don’t know how to be bill collectors. We are your advisor, your counselor, your defender. We DO NOT want to have to ask you for more money.
  2. It makes us feel like a failure to have to ask you for more money. We like to do things in an economically efficient manner. If we’re working hard trying to keep the cost down for you, we aren’t going to be happy if we keep having to ask for money. If we predicted this case to be easy peasy and the other attorney is slow, or difficult, and we end up having to beg for more money just to finish the case, we feel like we didn’t bully that other attorney back enough. We feel like we’ve failed YOU even if it’s beyond our control.
  3. We know and understand how expensive a trial is. We have been doing this a while. We give you an amount because we think that’s how it should go. However, we understand all the things that can go wrong. If I were on your side, I don’t know how long I could deal with the expensive consequences of going to court. We understand money. We understand the expenses that are draining your account. Believe me, we see it and we get it. 
  4. We know when you receive money, we know your financials, so we know when you’re being stingy with paying us versus when you actually cannot pay. We have a client who is a landscaper. We know that during the winter, we won’t get paid as well as when the flowers are blooming and the grass is growing. In family law, we quickly see what you have in your account, and we know whether you feel that your $700.00 per month vehicle is more important than keeping us as an attorney. While we understand rough times, we will cut someone loose very fast if they don’t have their priorities in order.
  5. We want to win your case, but we can’t keep working toward a win without payment. Without being paid, we are constrained in what we can keep doing. We love to win our cases. We love our clients who are golden. We love the client who comes in with a great case and lays it all out on the line for us. We love being able to fight knowing that our clients deserve the best possible outcome. We just wish that working for our clients didn’t sometimes come as a detriment to our firm and our income. When we are constrained because you’re in the red, we can’t keep filing motions and going to court. We have to limit costs so that you don’t end up in a hole. We have to look out for your economic interests when your emotions get in the way.
  6. We wish we could afford to keep working on your case even when you stop paying, but we have no other sources of income except our legal obligations to our clients. This is our job just like you do your job for income. If we cannot afford to pay our bills, we cannot keep working for free. People don’t understand that we get paid to talk and give advice. We went to school to learn the law, and answer questions for people. If you went to see a psychiatrist, would you ask them to diagnose you and medicate you for free? If you met a chef, would you ask them to cook for you for free? We love our clients. We actually stay friends with a lot of them. However, simply because we become friends with our clients, and look out for them, doesn’t mean we can live off of their good feelings and friendship. We have to charge, or we’re going to have to find a new job.
  7. If we give you a deal, we have to give others a deal. In the end, it devalues our services across the board. If you give a mouse a cookie.  
  8. Cheap, quick work is sloppy, and can cost you money. Don’t be upset that we are meticulous, that is you why you hired us. We take pride in our good legal work. We are thorough. If you want a sloppy, quick, lawyer who doesn’t care what happens then go hire someone else. We will happily refer you to someone!  
  9. If we give you multiple warnings regarding how we’re trying to save you money, heed those warnings and don’t call constantly. We can only do so much to save you a buck without your cooperation. We know that you want to call your lawyers to fuss about how your ex is being a jerk, but that’s not why we’re here. We’re problem solvers. Call your friends for that advice. Nothing is more painful to your lawyer than for you to call simply to fuss without asking for advice or help to fix the problem when your account is in the negative. We go out of our way to help you. Help us help you stay in the green.
  10. Amount of money paid does not predict an outcome. C’mon. We all know just because you spent 15k and yet you’re a secret serial killer, does NOT mean that you’ll get custody. Sometimes money can only get you so much time, talent, and effort before the Judge throws out your case or commits you.
Related Posts
  • Birmingham Custody Attorneys: 3 Tips Involving School And Custody Issues Read More
  • Birmingham Family Law Attorneys: The Magic City Law Difference Read More
  • Birmingham Divorce Attorney: 4 Tips For Trial Day Read More