I heard from an attorney recently who said his business is off. When I asked him why he thought that was, he referred me to a page on the “Underearners Anonymous” website that lists 12 “Symptoms of Underearning”. He claimed he had all 12.
I don’t think that’s really true and I don’t think he believes it, either. He’s blowing off steam. I know he’s been very successful in the past and his current situation is undoubtedly a temporary slump. But he is correct in looking inward for answers because even in a bad economy, many attorneys are thriving.
In today’s post, I want to talk about one of these 12 systems because I see it a lot. I’ll cover a second symptom in tomorrow’s post.
Number 7 on the list is “Undervaluing and Under-pricing’ — We undervalue our abilities and services and fear asking for increases in compensation or for what the market will bear.” I’ve done hundreds of consultations with attorneys and I can tell you that “undervaluing and under-pricing” is very common.
Charging less than you could is an obvious cause of lower income and it’s an easy fix: Raise your fees. But that’s easier said than done for the attorney who undervalues his or her services. If you don’t believe you’re worth more than you currently charge, you must first reconcile that belief with the truth.
Do your homework. Find out what other attorneys with similar experience charge. If most charge more than you do, you can assume that you can safely set your fees higher, and get it. And if you can get more, then you are worth more. Yes or yes?
What if you’re not worth more than what you currently charge? Well, then you’re not undervaluing yourself, you’re undervaluing your potential.
If you’re not worth more, charging more isn’t a good idea. You can get away with it for awhile but you will be found out, eventually. Instead, you need to increase your value. When you are worth more, you can charge more.
What about the attorney who knows he is worth more and still doesn’t raise his fees? These attorneys (and there are a lot of them) are afraid that if they raise their fees their clients will leave. And this is not without justification. Some clients will leave. A lot may leave, in fact, but losing clients is not the only thing to consider.
If you increase your fees you may lose some clients. But you can replace them with other clients who pay you more. The additional revenue from these new, better-paying clients, will offset the loss of revenue from clients who leave. Eventually, when you’ve replaced enough of the clients who leave, you’ll be earning a lot more than you do now.
You’ll probably want to increase your fees in phases. Start with new clients. They only know what you tell them and you won’t tell them about what you used to charge. As you get more new clients at higher fees, you can begin to raise fees for existing and former clients.
By the way, I said earlier that you should look at what other attorneys charge, to find proof that you can safely charge more than you do now. But be careful. What other attorneys charge doesn’t preclude you from charging more than they do, so don’t let it. But many attorneys do.
Many attorneys are afraid that if they charge more than other attorneys in their market, they won’t get hired. Well, there’s truth in that, too. If you charge more, some clients won’t hire you. But guess what? There are enough who will. And those are the clients you really want.
Set your fees high, my friend, and then do everything you can do to justify those higher fees. Give more value than other attorneys give and you’ll earn more than other attorneys earn.
If your clients say things like, “Yeah, she charges more, but she’s worth every penny,” then you know you’re doing it right.
If you want to learn how you can be worth more so you can charge more, you need The Attorney Marketing Formula.