Tuesday, October 24

An email exchange today

For a while now I have been chasing 'John' for an old bill on a mediation I had done for his law firm last year, with no joy.

I got no response for months until, out of the blue a fortnight ago, I got a new job from his firm, no mention of the debt, just an interesting looking 2 day mediation...

And today this was my attempt at turning a year and a half old debt into an opportunity...

>Hi John, Just trying to sort my end of year schedule out as I have pressure on dates.
>At present that 2 day mediation you emailed me on is pencilled in for 4 and 5 December...is this now a confirmed date?

>If so, we should convene a conference call soon to sort out any premediation matters like venue/docs/numbers attending etc.
>Can you let me know please?

>Am seeking instuctions.
>I better pay that last bill.
>My problem was that I did not receive it from my clients...Anyway no doubt it is due, and appears we are destined to have quite a lot of contact because you are about to be contacted on another fairly significant matter by [ x ] in Christchurch.

>John, I didn't realise you had not been paid...after what I recall as an ok result too...no drama, do you want to go halves on the pain, so just pay 50%? Fair?

>If thats ok with you.

>Fine with me, to be honest I'm more interested in being your mediator of choice than getting an old bill of this amount paid, so whatever works at your end.

Sort of related and sort of inconsistent with what I did; Cheaper is a short term hit, not a long term advantage

Thoughts anyone?


Rick Weiler said...

Hi Jeff, this is an interesting post. From time to time I have to deal with the same situation here in Ontario Canada (in fact I'm dealing with one right now).

You know your market best and so I'd defer to your decision (although the fact this is the subject of a post tells me that you've got a question in your mind).

Although I completely understand the motivation (particularly as one continues to build a loyal following), I've personally decided against such "discounting". My view is that it sends the wrong message to lawyers about (a) their own responsibility to ensure they're properly retained (i.e. make sure you have your money in the door before you sit down with me), and (b) the value of the services I provide.

This isn't to say I'm not willing to cut counsel some slack. For example I will often waive my cancellation fee if it means a lawyer's going to get stuck (but don't tell anybody....grin).

I'll be interested to see other's comments on this very practical issue facing many mediators.

Best Regards

Rick Weiler
Ottawa, Canada

Geoff Sharp said...

Rick, great comment and (in the words of our kissing cousins, the therapeutic mediators), thanks for sharing.

Yeah,I need to value up what we/I do more as I gravitate to loss leading too easily/early.

Thanks for your thoughtful post.