Choosing the right lawyer is a very individual process. While many lawyers are skilled professionals, we’re not interchangeable.
Finding the right fit for you requires what I call 3 C’s – balancing Competence, Cost and Personal Comfort.
Competence – What Skills to Look For
Competence refers to the attorney’s knowledge, skills and experience in a particular area. Obviously, competence is crucial – you want to win.
To excel in collections, your lawyer needs litigation skills and a working knowledge of contract, corporate, and some bankruptcy law.
An experienced collection lawyer should have a trained eye for collection issues, knowing what to look for, what questions to ask, and how to find assets when there’s a judgment to enforce. This includes an eye for various schemes that sophisticated debtors employ to frustrate their creditors.
Generally speaking, the right skill set is more important for a collection lawyer than knowing the specific industry. That’s because most collection issues aren’t industry-specific.
However, there are some exceptions. A few areas (like staffing and construction suppliers) have unique issues or laws which, if unrecognized, can greatly impact your collection case. In those instances, your lawyer should be familiar with those industry-specific collection issues.
Cost – Different Fee Models
Cost refers to legal fees. Common fee models include hourly, contingency, and flat billing.
Hourly means you pay for the amount of time the lawyer works on your case, based on an hourly rate. Contingency means you pay a percentage of any recovery. And flat means you pay a fixed amount, which doesn’t depend on time or results.
In collections, lawyers commonly accept cases on a contingency basis, though you need a clear agreement which states what services this includes. The advantage to you is that you only pay a fee if there’s a recovery.
But not all clients want a contingency fee. For example, for a large commercial loan, the lender may prefer not to pay a percentage of the recovery. Therefore, under New Jersey’s ethics rules, an attorney who offers you contingency billing must also offer hourly.
In addition, your lawyer may offer a blended (hybrid) model, which combines a lower hourly rate with a lower percentage of the recovery.
Though some cases may vary, when I accept a collection case, I usually offer contingency, hourly, and blended fee options.
In the end, if all things were equal, you’d go with whoever charges you the least. But losing is expensive, and competence is still key. Therefore, you’ll want to balance fees with expertise and experience.
Comfort – Trusting Your Attorney
Comfort refers to the level of confidence, trust and rapport in your relationship. In my experience, communicating with the client is the key to building confidence and trust. Clients want someone who keeps them informed, returns their calls and replies to their emails.
Why Hire Me?
I’ve been getting results for satisfied clients for 25 years. If you review my Testimonials page, you’ll find that clients from a variety of industries describe both the results I achieve and their experience working with me.
You can expect regular updates from me throughout the collection process, along with prompt responses and open communication.
While many of my clients have become long-term relationships, I can’t predict rapport in every case. I can promise, however, that I’ll continuously strive to earn your trust and confidence.
Finally, if you’re an employment agency or construction supplier, you’ll need more than just a skilled collection lawyer. You’ll need someone who knows the unique collection issues affecting your industry, which you can read about on this site.
I practice throughout New Jersey (all counties), and also accept cases in Southeastern Pennsylvania.