As many of my readers and business clients know, I bring a very unique background to being a Michigan Business Attorney. A degree in Finance, Vice President of a commercial equipment leasing company, small business owner and entrepreneur. This background and my own personal view on true client service caused me to step back and look at the way Michigan small businesses worked with their business lawyer.
Guess what? I didn’t like it. The most common model is based on the “billable hour.” I’ve experienced that both as a client (at the leasing company) and as an attorney. Yes, it’s true, I billed by the hour when I first opened my firm . . . it was all I was taught and all I knew. I quickly realized that billing by the hour is a lose – lose situation. When you’re billed by the hour you don’t want to talk with your attorney. Trust me, I know because I didn’t want to when I was a client. And it felt a little bit like giving the attorney a “blank check” because the bill would be for however much time it took. Sure there were estimates, but it wasn’t set in stone. I wanted to have a relationship with my clients, and I knew I couldn’t do that billing by the hour.
Then there was the flat-fee model. A specific dollar amount for a specific transaction. It still felt cold and impersonal. The reason was that it was “just a transaction.” Again, I wanted to have an ongoing relationship with my clients and many of them expressed an interest in something more than the “one off” transaction. Why? Because we’ve seen first hand the incredible value provided by ongoing counsel from a business lawyer (thankfully it was at a time that I wasn’t paying the bill!). Even with a flat fee for the services, once the transaction was over it was a case of “well, if you need anything else, just give me a call.” That was it!
I can tell you from personal experience that the followup call was rarely made. Why? Well, the simplest reason was the owner was busy running the company and it didn’t come to mind. Another common reason was fear of the cost involved for making that call. I knew there had to be a better way. So I thought about what I would have wanted as a business owner who wanted to help ensure the longevity of my business: ongoing guidance, value and a reasonable fee.
The result? The Lichterman Law Business Membership Program. Sounds awfully official doesn’t it? The aim of the business membership program is to provide small business owners and entrepreneurs with the ongoing legal guidance they need and want at a monthly flat rate they can afford. Membership levels range from our base Counsel Plan all the way up to our Pinnacle Plan. Each membership level is designed to provide small business owners with the most commonly needed business legal services. The best part (according to current business members) is the as needed phone and email access included in every plan level . . . and the kicker is that the phone/email access is not limited in any way.
The best part about our Business Membership Program is that it is the result of years of research, talking with dozens of business owners and business advisers about what they need and value most. It’s no surprise that many of those owners have or are current business membership participants. It truly is created for business owners, by business owners.
Despite offering business membership plans for the past few years, you probably haven’t heard much about it. That’s because we are very selective in who we offer business membership plans to so that we can provide the unsurpassed level of client service for which we are known. We’ve had so many business owners tell us to spread the word, that we finally decided to unveil it more publicly (starting with this and future blog posts).
You can get started by reading more about our philosophy by clicking here. Then call at 616-827-7596 to find out if you qualify for a business membership plan. Remember, we take a limited number of monthly membership clients and it is first come, first served, so call quick. We’ll even provide a 2 hour small business needs analysis meeting at no charge if you mention this blog post. Why wait?
Michael Lichterman is a relationship-based business attorney who leverages his business, marketing and legal knowledge to help business owners and entrepreneurs create a Foundation for Business Success™. This goes beyond merely drafting a set of documents – it’s about proactively preparing the business and the business owner for continued growth while remembering the “human side” of running a business. He best serves small business owners (less than 50 employees) and entrepreneurs. He takes the “counselor” part of attorney and counselor at law very seriously, and enjoys creating life long relationships with his clients and their businesses – many of which have become great friends.