At the Stanford Graduate School of Business—ground zero for budding venture capitalists, technologists and take-no-prisoners businesspeople—one of the most popular and heavily subscribed to courses is … are you ready for this? … Interpersonal Dynamics. Nicknamed “Touchy-Feely,” the course teaches that the key to business victory is emotional intelligence—understanding how others see you. It is all about feelings.
The same principle applies to the delicate issue of legal fees. The key to communicating effectively about your fees—and getting what you are worth—is understanding the interpersonal dynamics of the lawyer’s relationship with the client. You know—feelings.
Consider the new client. When choosing a lawyer, new clients usually rely on reputation, referrals and, most importantly, the impression they get of the lawyer. By putting the same effort and care into that impression as into a trial or a negotiation, lawyers can lay the groundwork for charging—and getting paid—substantially higher fees. Federal Express is not selling package delivery, it is selling peace of mind. So are you.
To successfully increase your fees with new or existing clients, you have to construct every encounter they have with you to make those encounters positive ones. Consistently create the right impression and you can increase your fees. Here are a few tips for how to make this principle work.
A wise senior lawyer once said to me, “A fact is a rare and valuable thing.” He was only half-right. Law may be about facts, but fees are ultimately about the perception of value, which is—you guessed it—a feeling. Know how to tap into it.