There is hardly anything in the world that some man can’t make a little worse and sell a little cheaper, and the people who consider price only are this man’s lawful prey. – John Ruskin
How much should I charge for my services? This question is posed to me on a regular basis as students prepare their business plan. Should I compare what others charge in the area for the same service and charge 25% less? Should I charge even less because of my inexperience?
Think about it. Who do you think is viewed as more important in that client’s eyes? Is it the attorney with 200 clients or you with one client? Which attorney will give this client the highest priority? You did go to law school and passed the Bar, correct? You are more attuned to the current law with the broadest understanding of the subject matter because you just studied all of the bar exam subjects in detail. So who is more current on the nuances of the law? You are.
But the seasoned attorney is more knowledgeable, you say.
What you lack is self-confidence. Let me tell you, there isn’t an attorney who doesn’t experience a “crisis of confidence” on a daily basis. They cannot, and do not, know it all. Yes, they have experience and a better understand how things might play out in the system – but that is a double edged sword. It can be as a disadvantage as someone who questions everything and looks at every issue with a fresh perspective. Who says the experienced attorney will come up with a better answer or strategy than you. And today, the internet is the great equalizer. Listservs proliferate. These are mail groups who are generally members of a certain section of the state bar or organized around substantive topics. There are listservs for family law, criminal prosecution, criminal defense, appeals, probate, property law, and just about anything you can think of.
Here in Michigan we have a Probate and Trust Section which has a listserv. There are many members of this Bar who subscribe to that listserv and frequently post questions and answers for one another. All the members of the listserv must be members of the Bar or student members of the Bar to be able to subscribe to it. If you post a question, you will get answers from seasoned professionals at no cost to you. These days you are not alone and some would say, due to the resources you have on line, you are not without considerable wisdom at your fingertips. So are you less able to come up with good legal solutions? I think not.
So, why would you charge any less than a competitor for the same OR BETTER SERVICE? You are selling yourself, first and foremost remember that. If you value your services below the competition, your clients will do the same. But, you need to make the case and let them know that you may have less experience, but you more than make up for it in motivation. Don’t apologize for your fees, sit upright and announce them with conviction and be prepared to tell your client that they will get valuable services for their money and no one will work harder to see that it is so than you will.