Commercial Law World - Issue 4, 2017 - 19

Collecting Law Firm
Accounts
by Richard J. Payne
Richard received a B.A. and an LL.B from
Dalhousie University and was called to
the Bar of the Province of Ontario in 1987.
He is a Partner with Morrison and Payne,
Barristers and Solicitors.
He practices in the area of Commercial
Litigation with a primary focus on DebtorCreditor work including collections for
lawyers and other professionals.
www.morrisonandpayne.com

O

ne of the current topics of discussion at CLLA
meetings and other similar organizations is the
change in the debtor/creditor relationship and the impact
that that has on our numbers and on the quality and
volume of claims that we are receiving. The primary
reasons for this include the increasingly regulated
environment such as the FDCPA and the concern about
compliance that has an overall chilling effect on many
of those in our areas of practice. Another reality is the
consolidation of many of the credit granting industries
that have traditionally sought the assistance of commercial
collection agencies and commercial collection attorneys.
This has resulted in fewer claims being placed and has
also led to a further inter-related issue which is the
centralization and focus of collection departments.
Some of these have moved off-shore. These are some of
the challenges that we are all facing. Claims are down,
regulation is up. What are we to do?
Most of us who were involved in collections have
experienced claims in a whole range of collections work.
The debt could arise from the supply of advertising,
medical services, farm equipment, steel tubing, or
professional services. In most of these areas, we have no
real experience in the industry. Our expertise is limited
to our skills and experience in the collection of debt
and related litigation proceedings. However, there is one
exception to this and that is in the area of the recovery
of debt for accounts owing to law firms for professional
services.
As practicing lawyers, we appreciate the confidentiality
and privilege issues which are inherent in claims by law
firms. We understand the professional regulations and
ethical obligations which need to be observed in any
communications with former clients of those law firms.

We should endeavor to position
ourselves to be the default option
for law firms with problems
relating to unpaid accounts.
Some might wonder why law firms would place their
accounts with a collection agency or a collection lawyer.
One might assume that law firms would be in a position
where they would have sufficient resources in-house to
deal with any kind of collection problems. However, for
many reasons law firms are not ideally placed to deal with
collection matters.
In most major larger law firms there is a collection
department or collection individual who follows up on
outstanding accounts and attempts to collect monies owed
to the firm. Generally, that person or department deals
with varying degrees of cooperation from the attorneys
who have the unpaid accounts. Once they have exhausted
their efforts at informal collection they then come to the
same realization that other suppliers do, that they have
arrived at a point in the road where they must either
sue or close. Many law firms that try to maintain their
collection litigation in-house tend to assign it to their
least experienced and least expensive attorneys. In some
instances, these junior attorneys or law students have no
experience whatsoever in litigation generally or collection
litigations specifically. Sometimes they are in a "rotation
system" where they are being moved around in different
areas of the law firm and, as a result, the litigation file
can be handed over to a series of different individuals as
people rotate in and out of the department.
- Continued on page 21

CLLA.ORG

19


http://www.morrisonandpayne.com http://www.CLLA.ORG

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Commercial Law World - Issue 4, 2017

Contents
Commercial Law World - Issue 4, 2017 - Cover1
Commercial Law World - Issue 4, 2017 - Cover2
Commercial Law World - Issue 4, 2017 - Contents
Commercial Law World - Issue 4, 2017 - 2
Commercial Law World - Issue 4, 2017 - 3
Commercial Law World - Issue 4, 2017 - 4
Commercial Law World - Issue 4, 2017 - 5
Commercial Law World - Issue 4, 2017 - 6
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Commercial Law World - Issue 4, 2017 - 9
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Commercial Law World - Issue 4, 2017 - 11
Commercial Law World - Issue 4, 2017 - 12
Commercial Law World - Issue 4, 2017 - 13
Commercial Law World - Issue 4, 2017 - 14
Commercial Law World - Issue 4, 2017 - 15
Commercial Law World - Issue 4, 2017 - 16
Commercial Law World - Issue 4, 2017 - 17
Commercial Law World - Issue 4, 2017 - 18
Commercial Law World - Issue 4, 2017 - 19
Commercial Law World - Issue 4, 2017 - 20
Commercial Law World - Issue 4, 2017 - 21
Commercial Law World - Issue 4, 2017 - 22
Commercial Law World - Issue 4, 2017 - 23
Commercial Law World - Issue 4, 2017 - 24
Commercial Law World - Issue 4, 2017 - 25
Commercial Law World - Issue 4, 2017 - 26
Commercial Law World - Issue 4, 2017 - 27
Commercial Law World - Issue 4, 2017 - 28
Commercial Law World - Issue 4, 2017 - Cover3
Commercial Law World - Issue 4, 2017 - Cover4
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