The recession and subsequent dismal economic conditions pre and post recession have brought out an alternative economy that many lawyers find intriguing. I am talking about the barter economy. Many lawyers (especially lawyers with good law firm marketing) are being asked to consider trade as an alternative to a cash fee.
Just like in colonial times when the blacksmith would barter shoeing a horse for free medical services from the town doctor, clients are approaching attorneys and asking for all kinds of alternative fee arrangements. Bartering services for services is not uncommon.
Should you enter into a barter arrangement?
The ultimate question is: Can a barter arrangement work for your law firm. The answer is a firm “maybe”. Success in these arrangements is contingent upon the services you are providing and the product/service you are providing in return.
It is easy to determine if you are getting a fair deal if you barter your legal services for some kind of product. The product has tangible value. You can look around the market and determine what it is work. A service on the other hand is nebulous. Its value is subjective.
The bottom line on barter relationships is: Be Careful. You must be prepared to not get adequate value in return for the service you provide. You should have a written agreement even though you will not be exchanging funds. Each party should have their obligations spelled out clearly. You must be willing to take action and remain persistent.
Barter is better than nothing but cash is always best. Get paid and get paid in advance whenever possible.