June 23, 2017
Contributor: Angel Price, JD
I was discussing becoming a lawyer with someone. The individual stated it’s a competition. I stated that my prices will be within the market and commensurate to what I think I am worth, skills, expertise, experience, and education. I took a class in law school that taught me that the legal profession is a business at the end of the day. This individual has a business. He does more work for less money to gain more clientele, whereas other businesses in his field charge higher prices for the same work. So, he was ultimately telling me that I should charge less money than my white counterparts. As an African-American woman in the legal profession, I will not undercut myself to gain clients. I learned that if your fee is too low then people will think you do not know what you are doing.
He continued to argue that the legal profession business is a competition. I argued in the alternative. He asked me do I know what a competition is. A competition is going against others doing the same thing so that you can win and be number one. I don’t think any business will succeed by attempting to be number one or by going against others in the same kind of work.
I am a giver. I am not selfish. I believe there is enough wealth to go around. I intend to do good quality work, doing what I love, helping others. I do not want to destroy others while practicing law, when I pass the bar. He further explained how two businesses in town are competing and trying to shut each other down by calling the police on each other. That is the craziness thing I heard today. By focusing on negativity and what others are doing and trying to close the shop next door you lose focus on what’s important, your business. That time could be used to see hoe you can generate more revenue in your business. I say these two businesses should work together and could get a lot further.
Dot get me wrong. I am very strong and I will not let people walk over me, but I think we can work together to achieve a goal, even if we are adverse. I do not taste things or business personal. Another lawyer on the other side does not upset me. If an attorney attempt to personally attack his adversary he has no a argument and that is very low.
Bottom line is that many of us do the same thing the next person ids doing. If we provide exceptional service we will be successful. I have no doubt that I will succeed. I have integrity and a good work this. I will attack the right clients and I dot have to compete against what’s already out there. People have a choice on who to see for their car repairs, hair appointments, doctors, dentist, and lawyer. There will be clients for almost anybody who is passionate about their work. Some women pay $200+ for a sewin, all the way up to $2,000 for the same hair and same style. It’s up to the client.
He was also suggesting that I set prices low so that I get a lot of business due to prices. I understand that if you are selling dinner plates. I say no for the legal profession based on what I learned and have been exposed to. If you have so many cases how can you diligently and effectively handle your client’s case. Sometimes it is difficult to discuss the legal profession with people who are not in this business. They do not get it. This is not like another business. Law is a service and a business. It takes time, research, long hours. A lot goes on behind the scenes.
Attorneys can set their own prices within the ABA standards of reasonable fees. Attorneys have some flexibility when there is a indigent client or a personal injury case. However, there is no reason to dramatically reduce your hourly fees or retainer because “it’s a competition” and you have to beat out the market. I was told that if you do that then you will be making enemies in the legal field and I do not want to do that.