Bzzz – Ow – Bzzz – Ow – Don't be a Bart Simpson

The Simpsons debuted on TV while I was in Law School. I have many memorable episodes, but the one that sticks out the most is where Bart touches the electrocuted science experience that the Lisa set up, gets buzzed, says ow, then repeats it over and over again.

I thought about Bart yesterday during a conversation with a criminal/family law lawyer who is having some collection issues and asked for my advice.

I suggested that they ensure they have a monetary retainer in their trust account at all times sufficient to cover the work and if they run out, stop working until it is replenished. Yes, that means going through the uncomfortable conversation of saying “I require $ 1500.00 in my trust account against which I will bill my time. I will let you know when I require more money. I won’t do any work if there is no money in my trust account.”

After the uncomfortable conversation, I recommended the lawyer do the “work” of regularly monitoring their trust account.

All lawyers should do the work of monitoring their firm’s financial situation on a regular basis. Those tabs in your Legal Accounting Software that say G/L statements are not just for accountants – they let you know how you’re doing.

The lawyer told me that they didn’t think that they would be able to have the uncomfortable conversation because they want to help people. I asked if they also wanted to pay their bills: apparently they are conflicted as to which is more of a priority.

This lead the image of Bart’s bzz-ow-bzz-ow to jump to my mind. Clearly the lawyer is always going to be where they are right now … well that or out of business.

So, to recap, the moral of today’s Blog is: “don’t be a Bart”.

Inga B. Andriessen JD