In initial consultations, some potential clients may claim that they do not have the funds to hire you. It could be that the potential client paid a consultation fee to meet you. You might have spent much time answering their questions with IRAC (issue, rule, analysis, and conclusion) answers. You might have listened carefully to their situation, showed empathy, and devised a good game plan to approach their case.
But despite doing that, the potential client claimed they did not have the money. After spending much time with a potential client, the claims of no money can be frustrating for many lawyers.
What To Make Of The No-Money Excuse?
Many lawyers know what to do when a potential client tells them they do not have the money after spending so much time with them. Does the potential not have the money? Are our prices too high? Should we lower our prices? These are all questions many attorneys ask.
New lawyers may stumble with the no-money excuse because they are not used to hearing it. Lawyers who have not been in private practice long may be stumped by these declarations that they do not have the money because consultations may be new to them.
In the end, some potential clients may not have the money. But the reality is most probably do. If they did not have the money, most would not have come to your law office in the first place. Most potential clients also know how much it will cost to hire a lawyer just by talking to others who have had similar legal matters or who used your firm. It could also be that you told the potential client beforehand what your initial deposit or retainer would be. So, if they knew what you charged, how could they suddenly not have the money?
The No-Money Excuse Is Often An Easy Letdown
Most lawyers fail to understand that the no-money excuse is often what a potential client tells a lawyer when they are uncomfortable hiring that lawyer after meeting them. Thus, most lawyers must reflect on their conduct in initial consultations.
Are they listening to the potential client versus doing most of the talking? Are they giving IRAC answers to questions posed to them? Or have they resorted to naysaying and stonewalling? Further, when fees are discussed, is the lawyer clear and concise? Or is there a lot of ramble or insecurity being conveyed about the cost involved?
The truth is that most potential clients say they do not have the money because it is an easier letdown. It is hard for most to communicate that they feel uncomfortable with the lawyer after a meeting. Thus, the no-money excuse is used to end the consultation on the part of the potential client in a way that lets the lawyer down in a nicer way.
What If They Do Not Have The Money?
Many lawyers retort that the potential client does not have the money–and that there is nothing they could have done. They may think they have done everything perfectly. In many instances, the lawyers are not honest with themselves if they hear the no-money excuse regularly.
They might need to watch another lawyer in the firm who is more successful in initial consultations. They might also mock an initial consultation with another lawyer for constructive feedback on their performance.
But to the extent a lawyer still feels like the potential client does not have the money, a good approach is to ask the potential client: “Can I make a suggestion?” Most potential clients will say “yes” to that. Afterward, the lawyer might ask the potential client if they have thought about the following: Going to a friend or family member for the money, applying for a credit card, getting a loan of some kind, selling something, taking out a 401k loan or home equity line of credit, etc.
By asking questions like this, many potential clients might think of ways to obtain the funds they had not considered. For many lawyers, it can also become more apparent whether the client is having trouble with the funds or is just using that as an excuse.