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Effective accounts receivable management requires methodical, timely and consistent interaction with a past due customer. Your business prospers when you focus on its operations, sales, and customer service. Utilizing an attorney to assist with past due accounts receivable enables you to focus on what you do best, while having the confidence of knowing that diligent efforts will be made to collect the money your company is owed.
Every industry has different standards, but the general rule is once an invoice is more than 90 days old, you should think about engaging an attorney. Generally speaking the “younger” the invoice, the greater the probability of a recovery, and the more likely the recovery will be for the full amount of the invoice.
There is no guarantee that utilizing an attorney or a collection agency will result in a recovery. Generally speaking, you are in the best position to know whether engaging an attorney will be worthwhile. However, one thing is certain: trying to do it yourself is not being effective. The amount of new business you would have to obtain to absorb the services of an attorney would be far, far lower than the new business you will need to make up for an unpaid invoice.
Often times, a customer will assert such a claim just to stall payment because of cash flow issues. However, sometimes, these claims have some basis in fact. In these instances, an attorney can act as a facilitator to resolve the situation. Rather than resulting in a permanent loss of a business relationship, this has the potential of resolving the matter and enabling the business relationship to continue.
Under Massachusetts and Rhode Island law, the responsibility to pay a business’s collection and/or attorney fees by a customer is only allowed if the customer has agreed to do so in writing.
As with any potential business liability, the best way to minimize it is to engage in effective risk management. One of the most effective ways to minimize past due invoices is to have terms and conditions incorporated into your documentation which minimize the ability of a customer to raise issues regarding the services and/or products you provide and to ensure that in the event you require an attorney to collect what the customer will have to reimburse your company for its legal expenses.
When you call our office, you will first speak with our legal assistant who will ask you some background questions about your situation and then book an initial consultation appointment. The circumstances of your situation will determine whether we meet in person or by phone. We will then send you an introductory letter and an intake form which we ask you to complete and return before your appointment. To ensure that our meeting will be substantive and efficient, we carefully review your form and any supporting documentation before we meet.
First, be assured that any information you provide on the form and in any of our discussions is held in the strictest of confidence. The intake form gives us an introduction about what your business is all about, how you conduct transactions and of course information specific to the issue you wish to address. After the first placement of a matter with our office, a less extensive intake from is used on for additional matters referred to our office. All of this information allows us to prepare for our initial meeting and to focus our discussion on the strategies that will best address your particular situation. And, by providing this information ahead of time, we can use our meeting time to get right down to a substantive discussion rather than taking part of our time together to collect phone numbers and zip codes, or talking about things that are not applicable to the matter you need addressed.
You should plan for our Initial Consultation to last approximately one-half hour. Because each of us has done “homework” to prepare for the meeting, we are able to hit the ground running and our meeting is a substantive work session. During our meeting, we will discuss in depth your business current practices and risk management regarding accounts receivable. In most cases, by the end of our meeting, we are able to recommend a plan designed to address the specific circumstances and goals.
We provide our Creditors’ Rights services primarily on an hourly basis, beginning with time spent on meeting preparation. Our current hourly rate is $315 for our attorneys and $100 for our legal assistant. In a few cases, we may decide together that a flat fee is more appropriate for your situation.
Every case is different, and our advice is always customized based the facts and circumstances. Because there is no “one size fits all,” we cannot quote fees on the phone. We are not trying to be coy, but feel that we are doing both you and us a disservice by trying to guess what work you might need before we have fully analyzed your needs.