Why Lawyers Shouldn’t Charge for Client Phone Calls and Emails

One of the things I've never understood (and still don’t) is why lawyers charge for the quick phone call or email to their client.

Right off the bat—I want to differentiate between an email to a client and an email to someone else, like another attorney, an email to a potential infringer or someone else. Obviously, the latter is more in line with actual ‘legal work’ and less in the line of pure communication.

Maybe I’m just too ‘millennial’ or ‘inexperienced’ or ‘naive’ to understand why firms keep charging their clients to communicate vital information. But I think charging your client to tell them what you found out or heard or did for them is just stupid.

It feels like nickle-and-diming my clients to put a $20 charge on their bill for a quick email. My clients are my biggest advocates and supporters, why would I treat them like like an ATM?

In my opinion, charging a client $90 for a 20 minute phone call isn’t worth the thousands of dollars of business a client is now reluctant to give you later. Maybe other attorneys just have bad client-attorney boundaries. Maybe they will take in any client and not their dream clients. I don’t know, but it seriously baffles the bejewels out of me as to why anyone would charge their client for talking to them. 

It probably confounds a lot of clients too… especially our creative ones.

Can you imagine getting a bill from your graphic designer that had not only the hours they worked on your mockups but also the time spent on emailing you back and forth?

Or if a wedding photographer charged their clients for every phone call prior to the wedding?

That would be insane, and because my clients won’t understand that, I won’t do it.

I know most of my readers are not attorneys. But I guarantee, there’s fees and add-ons your clients are facing from you every week.

Did you anticipate these fees from the beginning, but you were not confident enough to quote a higher price right from the start?

Or are you still learning and figuring out what your clients need?

You need to be the mature business owner who errs on charging more for a seamless experience, rather than charging less and having messy (and annoying) add-ons later. 

Have you ever felt nickel-and-dimed as a business owner? Share the experience in the comments.

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