If you have ever participated in one of my lecture series you would know that the one resounding theme is –“relationships”. I thought I would kick off the blog with an incident that is a little personal that screams – “relationship break-down”. Several weeks ago I found myself in a bit of a quandary regarding a personal legal issue. You would think that being in this business for close to 20 years I would know legal counsel – NOT! However, I got a referral from our legal counsel and made contact with the attorney via email. After a few emails I made the trek to central Phoenix.
Our meeting, filled with idle chat, and a brief discussion of my thoughts on the issue; which took the better part of 40 minutes. We left the meeting on the basis that if I should choose to enjoin the issue I should contact the firm and open the case. Much to my surprise, 6 weeks later I get a bill! Obviously this attorney has never participated in my lecture sessions!
I am amazed at the audacity this person had to send me a bill, without actually providing more than a few cups of coffee and taking ½ of a page of notes. Clearly the relationship began all wrong! If I was to be a charge for the consultation, it should have been said during our email dialogue. Better yet, send me a consultation agreement outlining the cost of the meeting. Instead, the desire to make face-to-face contact far outweighed properly establishing the relationship!
In hopes to resolve this, I made contact with the attorney expressing my position regarding the issue and offered to meet during their off hours to come to a resolution. I am still awaiting a response…
Although I believe this person is a very competent attorney, and based on what I have read, this person is recognized in their area of specialty. However, the simple things were over looked: Clearly explaining the fee structure, getting a consultation agreement to me and explaining that the meeting would be billable.
I cannot stress it enough; firms create their own relationship/receivable issues! Hey firms, treat me like my Chrysler dealership does! Tell me IN ADVANCE the fee for diagnostics (initial consultation), tell me the cost of getting the work done (engagement), tell me the payment methods accepted (engagement/consultation letter) and most of all, make sure I understand – make me sign off!