Financial Fundamentals: The Budget: Your Firm's 'Secret Weapon' for Better Collections

Published in Legal Management, September/October 2007

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All companies do some type of planning. Global multinationals typically have detailed written plans, while smaller companies may have a "plan" in the head of the entrepreneur. Budgets are the essence of a successful plan, and any business can and should operate according to a budget – whether you’re making widgets or providing professional services.

Unfortunately, lawyers too often tend to dismiss the importance or even the practicality of preparing a budget. Typically there are three reasons for this:

  • Lawyers believe that providing their services depends on too many variables that can't be anticipated – for example, what motions opposing counsel will file, or what problems might turn up when doing due diligence.

  • Lawyers want to excel at what they do, whether it's negotiating a deal, drafting a contract, or litigating. They don't want the quality of their services to be constrained by budget limitations.

  • Lawyers fear to some extent that budgeting a matter is merely an attempt on the client's part to reduce the fees that the client is willing to pay.

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