Deena Fischer

E-Business Law Group / Just1Group - Managing Partner/ Principal and CEO
Yardley, PA

    Am I shortchanging myself?

    November 10, 2008

    So, I have a bit of an odd question.  How do you know if you're charging enough?  I understand how you do it when you have a product to sell.  But when you sell a service like mine, it's hard to know what the right amount to charge for your service is. 

    And who do you ask, exactly?   I can't really ask other lawyers because (a) my situation is different than theirs and (b) most lawyers don't really want to talk about money, particularly with a competitor.  Besides, I don't know any lawyers that I like enough (who I think would know the answer) to ask.

    If you ask me how I figured out my prices, it's not that hard.  I took the rate that I was being billed out to clients at when I worked at a boutique law firm (which was 4 years ago) and subtracted $100 per hour.  Then, since I work on a flat fee basis, I try to figure out how long something will take me and multiply it out by my hourly rate.  And then, because I absolutely detest math, I round down to the nearest $50.  And I bundle services and take $100 to $200 off if people do all of the services at the same time.

    Also, I don't generally charge my clients for telephone calls, which for many clients equals (if not exceeds) the amount of time that I spend on their legal work.  It sounds crazy, but because I don't have to write off the nearly 20% in billing that most law firms do (because I get paid up front), I don't need to charge as much to make a living.  And I look at those phone calls as the stuff I'd write off anyway.

    That being said, I wonder sometimes if I should be charging more. 

    I'm conflicted about it.  The whole philosophy behind my practice is that I feel that all small businesses should be able to protect themselves the best way possible.  I think that most people feel like lawyers cost too much to begin with and aren't really interested in spending more money than they have to for legal work.  It's why I do flat rate packages and why I try to keep my rates low.  And that's great.

    I love being (as Hazel Grace, who is an STS member, put it) a Small Business Superhero (though my 3 ½ year old son would like to know where my cape is).  It's the best feeling when I'm talking to a potential client and I hear them hold their breath in anticipation of what I'm going to say the price is for the service that they're requesting and I say the number and I hear a sigh of relief.  It's important to me and to my sanity to know that I'm helping people. 

    But is it possible I don't charge enough?  Am I undervaluing my worth?  Would I still get clients if I raised my prices?  How do I know that I'm not shortchanging myself?   Short answer, I don't. 

    I'll let you know when I figure it out.  If you have any opinions, I'm (as always) happy to hear them...

    Goal:  To launch my law firm and raise my kids without losing my mind....

    Read Deena's other blog entries >

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