Nickels Are The Size of Manhole Covers
In these days of enormous economic stress, it is all too easy for the solo practitioner to fall prey to the promise of a case that will bring an hourly fee. Defense work it the most obvious; although there are actually people who don’t get it still, there is no contingency in defense. (true story, I got a call where the gentlemen said, “ah, I just got into an accident and the cops said it was my fault; will you take my case on a contingency?”) Well, no sir, you see there actually has to be something to win!!
In any case, especially in today’s economy, people are quite unwilling to part with cash. Nickels become the size of manhole covers. I don’t care; if someone refuses to pay you a retainer, even a modest one, then you cannot take the case. No matter how counter-intuitive it may feel, you have lost nothing. A retainer is a test of a potential client’s resolve, a signal of their willingness to invest in their own cause. You cannot start out a representation being your client’s creditor the first moment you put your fingers on the keyboard. And, more times then not, if you let a case begin without some retainer paid, chances are very good it’s the last money you will (n)ever see from that case. Just say “no thanks.”