Winning a commercial collections case requires strong case management from the outset. Clients wishing to maximize the value of their case are integrally involved and view their time spent with us on their case as an investment in the future of their business. Our business clients’ time is helpful to us in many ways, and those that participate as outlined below truly maximize their outcomes and return on their dollars spent on attorney services.
We ask our business collections clients to begin by cataloging documents and other factual information: correspondence, business records, personal recollections. The business owner knows their operations better than we ever will. The business owner understands their records and can interpret them in ways we never could, and more efficiently than we are able. The client knows the context of the discussions around most documents. Using this initial set of documents and the client’s prepared “executive summary” (personal recollection and timeline), our office assists the client in identifying and gathering other important documents that may be in the hands of third parties (phone records, bank records, building department files, etc.) as we mount further evidence to build the commercial collection file.
We also ask that our clients assist in the early evaluation of the case by providing unfavorable information upfront. It will inevitably turn up later or be raised by the defense. Most commercial collection cases have some detrimental facts or negative components, whether it is an outright counterclaim, defense or simply a challenge to proving the amount owed (e.g., proof of work provided or goods delivered).
Sometimes raising the negative issues with us is embarrassing. But we understand from the outset that much of what is said in defense of a commercial collection claim is posturing. Our job is to help the business overcome those defenses, and maintain the value of the claim. The business owner may be embarrassed that they’re speaking with an attorney about a collection case at all. Because something went wrong, at some level, the company is owed money. The right business decision is in selecting efficient and experienced commercial collection counsel that can guide you through the process. We’re not looking back on such past mistakes, but looking forward for recovery and maximize return on the business investment in us. For clients that are interested we often debrief at the conclusion of the case or if other concurrent matters are ongoing, advise our clients as to how to change business practices to mitigate against the need to hire us the next time.
As to why the business needs to hire an attorney to collect a debt, we’ve seen virtually all reasons. Maybe the AR was let out too long, or too much work was performed without assurances of payment or proof of the company’s client’s ability to pay to begin with. Maybe there was doubt at the outset as to whether the customer or client could pay at all. Where these issues remain relevant in collection litigation and need to be revealed are in the focus on collecting a successful judgment. Even if there are no negative facts, we must realistically assess the ability of the defendant to pay if the dollars spent on litigation are to be viewed as an investment by the business client as they well should.
Examples of negative circumstances and facts that should be discussed at the outset are:
Whether there have been any allegations of defects or deficiencies.
Whether there has been any history of defects or deficiencies.
What were the discussions and representations made about the quality of the work or the amount of work to be performed.
Whether there are emails or text messages surrounding these discussions.
Above is just a small sampling of the issues that are important to discuss at the outset of the commercial collection litigation case. Our clients’ investment of their time, energy, and knowledge starts in the initial case evaluation—it is only by investment of these resources that makes the financial investment well-spent. It will not only help prove your company’s case, it will increase its overall value to be prepared and demonstrate confidence in the collection claim in light of any minor weaknesses.