Don't sue for fees.
Suing your client for fees invites a compulsory counterclaim of legal malpractice. Unless the fee is substantial, a suit is usually not worth the time, money and effort to pursue it. The best course of action is to take steps to avoid the need to sue.
Screen your clients carefully.
Before accepting representation, attempt to determine whether the potential client can pay for your services. If you feel uncertain about a potential client's willingness or ability to pay, consider requiring a retainer to bill against.
Discuss fees with the client.
At your first meeting with the client, explain the basis on which your fee will be determined.
Document fee arrangements.
Put your fee requirements in writing and have the client sign an agreement.
Bill the client early.
By billing early in representation, you will learn if the client is going to be a problem payer. This will allow you to cease representation, if possible, before the amount of legal fees and time invested becomes substantial.
Bill the client often.
Frequent bills are smaller and easier to pay. A client who might balk at a large sum payment may have no problem paying smaller monthly bills.
Send detailed invoices.
The average client expects to pay for typical legal services rendered. Fee disputes usually occur when the client does not understand what's been done and how much time has been spent. Detailed bills often eliminate misunderstandings, especially if you review them carefully before they are sent.
If you cannot avoid a fee dispute and feel that you must sue for a fee, only file suit if:
TLIE selected as a Preferred Provider by the State Bar of Texas
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