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Dealing with the Lawyer Stereotype

The legal profession has an image problem. One of the reasons why lawyer jokes are funny is because there is a kernel of truth to them. When you hear about lawyers on the news, it’s related to a newsworthy case or lawyers who did something severely unethical or illegal. These are the lawyers who are painting the picture of the profession.

And here’s what it looks like. I posted a simple question on Facebook and Reddit: “When you hear the word “lawyer” what phrases, stereotypes, gut reactions, or ideas come to mind?” Here are some of the responses I got:

Jerk Center by Sarah_Ackerman

Jerk Center by Sarah_Ackerman from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

Gladiators
Addicts
Selfish
Expensive
Rip off
Money grubbers
Dishonest
Smart
Patronizing
Insensitive
Sharks
Narcissists
Power-hungry
Slick
Ambulance chaser
Snakes
I won’t be in a hurry to be friends with them, but I’d rather them be friends than enemies.
They’ll do whatever it takes to lie for their client, even if it means letting a murderer go free, as long as their paid.
Always synonymous with human filth

A lot of these responses came from my Facebook friends – people who like me and know what I do for a living.

Sometimes I forget that there’s a nasty stereotype associated with the legal profession. I’m reminded of it when I do speaking engagements where I get feedback like this:

  • “I have heard several students say that it was the most helpful lecture they have attended. I also heard that they really enjoyed having a lawyer that added life to the room!”
  • “I feared it was going to be boring, but I figured it’d be like eating broccoli: Not fun, but good for you. I was delighted by Ruth’s presentation. She was engaging and funny – like eating broccoli covered in delicious queso.”
Shark Car Ornament by peggydavis66 from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

Shark Car Ornament by peggydavis66 from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

I know I’m not a typical lawyer in terms of personality and hobbies, but I forget that it is strikingly different than what a lot of people think of when they think of a lawyer. Even though I don’t fit the stereotype, I don’t see myself as that different from my counterparts in regards to work ethic, an enjoyment of the law, and a desire to help people – the things that really matter to potential clients.

So what’s the solution to the awful lawyer stereotype? I don’t know. The only thing I can think of is since we’re a self-regulating profession, we should have an expectation that we all follow Wheaton’s Law (“Don’t be a dick”). We shouldn’t tolerate arrogance, narcissism, or insensitivity in our dealings with our clients or each other. I wish more law schools would reject applicants and law firms would turn down candidates or fire people for being jerks. I don’t know what else we can do to show that the lawyers who make it on the news are the exception and not the rule for what it means to be a lawyer.

I was pleased to see that a few responses to my question that showed not everyone hates lawyers. One said a lawyer is a “[t]rusted advisor, hopefully.” Another said we’re the “[d]efenders of the weak.” At least some people know we’re not all bad.

See also: Lawyers’ Bad Reputations Start with Arrogant Law Students.

Legalizing Recreational Marijuana Makes Sense (and I Hate Pot)

As of January 1, 2014, any person over age 21 can legally buy marijuana in Colorado from a licensed dispensary. It’s just like buying liquor at a liquor store. Looking at what Colorado is doing, I’m starting to think that this may be the right move for all states.

Marijuana by warrantedarrest from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

Marijuana by warrantedarrest from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

From my observations, the medical marijuana system is corrupt. I believe that marijuana has positive benefits for certain patients; however when a state legalizes medicinal marijuana it seems like everyone who wants a marijuana card figures out which doctor to visit and what magic words they need to say to get a card. Then they use it as an excuse to be legally wasted all the time and possibly illegally share their legally obtained pot with others.

If we legalize pot, it will be distributed through legal channels and regulated to ensure that it’s safe. And the government can tax the shit out of it like they do cigarettes and with any luck that money will go to some good use. Hopefully this will reduce the demand for pot on the street and all the crime that goes along with the drug dealing will decrease. There will always be a black market for pot, just like there are still guys who illegally make moonshine; but I hope more people would choose to buy it from a licensed store if they choose to partake.

And let me make one thing clear – I am not a proponent for the use of marijuana in general. I hate the way it smells. I hate the way people act when they’re wasted. I chose not to be around most people when they’re drunk or high. If I ever live somewhere where marijuana is legal, I won’t allow it in my home. Yes, I am the anti-pothead who is saying it’s better to legalize it for all adults than to legalize medicinal marijuana.

Marijuana Joint by Torben Bjorn Hansen from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

Marijuana Joint by Torben Bjorn Hansen from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

Don’t tell me that marijuana should be illegal because it’s bad for you. There are a lot of things that are bad for us that are perfectly legal – like smoking cigarettes, drinking excessively, and being overweight. If we made everything that’s unhealthy illegal, we’d all be in jail.

Here is my concern for states that are considering legalizing marijuana – you have to figure out how this will work with the DUI laws. Driving while impaired by any amount of any substance is illegal in Arizona. I hope there are drug tests that are sensitive enough to tell when a person is likely currently impaired by pot. The drug test for marijuana for employment can show if you’ve used it in the last 30 days. I don’t want people getting DUIs when they haven’t used in a week but today they’re just a bad driver. Colorado’s law set a limit for how much THC you can have in your blood. If you go over that limit, the presumption is that you’re too impaired to drive.

Medical marijuana is legal in Arizona but some people are pushing for an amendment to the state constitution that would make using marijuana legal for adults and regulate its distribution.

What do you think – should marijuana be legalized? If so, what are your concerns? If you’ve been to Colorado and you’ve legally purchased pot, I’d love it if you’d share your experience in the comments below too.

Oppose the Proposed Arizona Bar Dues Increase

I was frustrated and angry to learn that the State Bar of Arizona Board of Governors is considering raising our bar dues starting in 2015. Our dues would go up $25/year for four years. The State Bar gives new attorneys lower dues for their first two years of practice so this will be the first year I pay the full $460 for my annual bar dues. I don’t want them go to up to $560.

Arizona Grunge Flag by Free Grunge Textures from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

Arizona Grunge Flag by Free Grunge Textures from Flickr (Creative Commons License)

The legal world is a self-regulating profession so I’m not frustrated with the State Bar; I’m frustrated with our State Bar. Yes, they regulate us, but they regulate us as we’ve told them to. So if I’m unhappy with the way they’re running the show, it’s my obligation to openly oppose it. I’m pleased that some members of the Board, namely Sam Saks, Melissa Ho, and Geoff Trachtenberg, are publicly opposing the increase. And for anyone who is unfamiliar with the Arizona Bar, it’s a mandatory pay-to-play state. You can’t be an Arizona attorney without being a member of the State Bar and our bar dues are already among the highest in the country.

My source at the State Bar told me there are 17,680 active attorneys in the Bar. Let’s say 17,000 of them have to pay full bar dues because they’ve been in practice for over two years. These 17,000 will pay $7.82 million in bar dues in 2014. If the proposed increase is accepted, these 17,000 attorneys will pay $9.52 million in bar dues in 2018. I would want to see what will cost $1.7 million more than what it costs now.

The fact that the Board of Governors is considering increasing our dues means that it’s time to take a closer look at how our money is currently being spent. I want to see how much money is coming in and where it’s being spent. I don’t mind paying for services that are necessary (like lawyer regulation, LOMAP, and the ethics hotline), that we’ve collectively agreed we should pay for, and occasional increases due to inflation. I don’t want to pay for things that don’t enhance the profession.

For example, I recently received my 2014 Arizona Bar Directory in the mail. How many people use the paper printing of the bar directory?  We have an online database. How much did we pay to print and ship these phonebooks? Unless this is somehow a moneymaker, the paper directory should only be printed for those who order and pay for it.

Maricopa County Court House by Ms. Phoenix from Flickr (Creative Common License)

Maricopa County Court House by Ms. Phoenix from Flickr (Creative Common License)

I wanted to gauge how my fellow attorneys felt about this issue so I sent a survey to my fellow Arizona legal eagles who graduated in or after 2007. As of this post, I’ve received 24 responses, mostly from the class of 2011. Twenty-one respondents said they took out loans to pay for law school (most of them over $100K) and all of them are still paying them off (up to $1,600/month). To ask them to pay $560/year just to be able to keep being attorneys, is asking a lot.

For anyone who wants to dismiss this problem by saying that attorneys don’t pay for their bar dues, their firms do; over half of the respondents reported that they were responsible for their bar dues, either paying directly out of pocket or because they were the owner of their firm so any business expenses can cut into their take-home pay. Even when the firm pays its attorneys’ bar dues, every dollar they spend on dues is a dollar they can’t put towards business development, pro bono work, and community involvement.

I gave the respondents a chance to share their thoughts about the proposed increase. Here’s what some of them had to say:

“I would want to know what I’m getting with the extra money. The dues are already crazy high compared to most other states and I don’t understand why.”

“One would think that with technology to handle much of what used to be paperwork for bar applications, testing (we do not have to create our own exam any longer), etc., costs would go down, not up. These costs ultimately get passed onto the public in higher fees and legal representation is already prohibitively expensive for most people.”

“Bar dues are effectively a tax on attorneys, which we have only minimal representation on due to the lack of transparency of the bar association. I feel that many of the bar’s programs and expenditures are of little value and should be funded from non-mandatory sources. If the legal community really feels those programs are needed, people will contribute voluntarily to support them.”

For anyone who wants to have their voice heard, this proposal will be considered by the Board of Governors on Thursday, December 12th, 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. and Friday, December 13th, 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. at the Arizona State Bar office in Phoenix. Any member of the Bar can attend the board meeting (I’ll be there), and you can contact the Bar if you wish to speak on this issue. The vote is expected to occur on Friday.

What’s the Better Rush: Skydiving or Litigation?

Last Friday, The Namby Pamby tweeted:

Namby Tweet

My response: “You know there’s this activity called skydiving – does the trick too with a lot more fun.”

Namby claims he won’t “jump out of a perfectly good airplane,” but I think he’s denying a parachute its destiny.

The closest things I’ve done to litigation is trial advocacy classes where the final was a mini fake trial, so I can’t say whether litigation prep or skydiving is a better adrenaline rush. But here’s the breakdown of the experiences from my perspective and based The Namby Pamby’s and The Mrs. Namby Pamby’s tweets.

SKYDIVING LITIGATION
It’s Saturday I’m doing whatever I want You’re working
The View Amazing view from the plane and on the way down I hope your office has a window
The Company Handpicking my group, including inviting the awesome Peter Shankman if he’s in town Dealing with potentially annoying coworkers, opposing counsel, and clients
The Significant Other Can come too Has trouble remembering what you look like
The Money Paying for the experience Getting paid – but how much do you really make per hour?
The Risk I could die – but it will be fast You could be dying a slow death – due to stress, substance abuse, poor diet, etc.
The Social Good Probably minimal Righting a wrong

Created with the HTML Table Generator

I asked my legal eagle friends whether skydiving or litigation had a better rush and they agree that skydiving is better than litigation.

Mike: “Skydiving. I’ve done both, and there’s no comparison.”

Chad: “I am going to say skydiving. After several years I began to dread litigation. I can’t imagine skydiving losing its appeal because the other skydivers are unprofessional poorly trained ass hats.”

A criminal defense attorney recently told me that hearing the phrase “Not guilty” was better than orgasm and I get that given that that might be a live-or-death situation. However, I remain unconvinced that doing litigation prep all weekend has a better adrenaline rush than skydiving.

What do you think?

 

Top 3 Tools to Establish a Name for Yourself

When I was a law student and now as a young lawyer, I go to a lot of networking events. They’re a great way to meet people in your community. There are other tools that will help you make a name for yourself online and at the national level. I wanted to share my three favorite tools. There are other ways to make a name for yourself, but these are the top three that work for me.

The Twitter Bird by eldh

1. Twitter
I’ve been a huge proponent of Twitter for a long time. It’s my primary networking tool when there’s someone new I want to meet. All you have to do is follow the person you want to meet and wait for an opportunity to respond to one of their tweets. It’s a great and easy way to break the ice with someone without feeling forced or fake.

If the person is going to be at an upcoming event, tweet at them about how excited you are to see or meet them. Then during the event tweet a quote from them or an accolade about them. After the event, be sure to tweet about how awesome they were/are.

2. Maintain a Blog
Having a blog is a great way to showcase your expertise and interests. At networking events and interviews you can talk about your interests or you can prove it by referencing past blog posts you’ve written on a topic. Maintaining a blog is a lot of work but it’s worth it. It’s not enough to start a blog. You have to update it regularly – preferably weekly – and be patient while you build a following. It takes a while to get there.

If you are someone who is lucky enough to have an assistant, it’s ok to let them take care of posting your work to your website, finding images for your posts, and taking care of your SEO stuff, but don’t let them write your verbiage. Your readers want to hear your unique voice so write your posts yourself.

3. Help A Reporter Out (HARO)
HARO is one of the best ways to get local and national exposure as a potential expert in your field. HARO is a service that connects reporters with potential sources. You can subscribe to HARO for free and you will get 3 emails a day, 5 days per week with dozens of opportunities to share your experience or expertise.

Most of the requests won’t apply to you, but some of them will – and you need to respond quickly if you want to be a contributor. A lot of the reporters who use HARO are on tight deadlines. I usually respond to at least one HARO every week. It’s especially beneficial when I can include a link to a blog post I’ve written on a topic – I think it increases the odds that a reporter will use me for a story over a lawyer who doesn’t blog on the topic.

You can also use HARO to network by referring a reporter to others who might be a good fit for their needs or by referring contact to HARO if a reporter is looking for input that they can provide.

There are lots of ways to make yourself stand out within your profession and the business community. These are some of my favorite tools, but it is definitely not an exhaustive list. If you have a tool or technique that you’d like to share, please leave it as a comment.

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Escaping School Bullies

October is Bullying Prevention Month. Bullying is one of my passions because this is an issue that is literally life-and-death for some young people. It’s a pervasive problem in our schools and the online community. This past summer I was asked to share my thoughts on a study that found that 17% of middle schoolers experienced bullying. The study’s sentiment seemed to portray the message that bullying “isn’t so bad.” The interviewer changed his tone when I pointed out that the findings suggested that nearly 1 in 5 children were being targeted, possibly tortured.

Self-Portrait #23 by Robby McKee

I believe that stopping bullying requires a multi-faceted approach that involves the school and the parents. The child who is being bullied needs support and the bully needs to be assessed to determine the cause of their behavior as well. Schools and parents also have the responsibility to foster a sense of acceptance in students to decrease the chance that a person or group will be taunted. If the school refuses to do its job and protect these victimized students, then the families needs to turn to higher authorities which may include the school board and/or the police. No child should be afraid to go to school.

Today I began to ponder what a child’s options might be if they can’t stand being in school anymore. I don’t support children dropping out of school in general, but for some, that’s their best chance for being safe. I’m very proud of what Caleb Laieski did a few years ago. He dropped out of school on his 16th birthday, the earliest date he could legally quit school, to escape the bullying he was forced to endure. He has since earned his GED and works in the Phoenix Mayor’s Office. I hope he’s a role model for other similarly situated students.

Caleb was able to withstand the bullying until his 16th birthday, but some students are not so fortunate. What do you tell a 14 year-old who is bullied every day – to hang in there ‘til he turns 16? I don’t think so. That could set the child up to commit suicide before he turns 16. These children have options to escape their tormenters and they should take advantage of them.

  1. Online School: If you’re going to attend an online school, make sure it’s a legitimate school with a demanding curriculum. Apparently there are a lot of scams out there.
  2. Home Schooling: When you opt to be home schooled, make sure you follow all the applicable laws and regulations set by the county. The woman I talked to today at the GED office said you’ll still have to take the GED.
  3. Community College: I called Rio Salado Community College today and they said a 14 year-old could be enrolled with a special admission. You have to take a placement test to make sure that you’re academically ready for college-level work. You will also have to take the GED when you turn 16.

I will vehemently oppose any proposed legislation that would require children to be in school until their 18th birthdays. Until the education system can effectively prevent bullying in schools, children need a way to escape when they are in a worst-case scenario.

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Behind the Scenes at my Legal Rebel Photo Shoot

A few months ago, I got an email from the American Bar Association that said I was selected as one of their 2012 Legal Rebels. They acknowledge 10 members of the legal community each year for being innovative. The ABA selected me because of my knowledge and work in flash mob law. As a co-founder of Improv AZ, I’ve studied the legalities of flash mobs since 2009 – it encompasses criminal, tort, property, First Amendment, and intellectual property law. I was very honored and humbled to be selected.

The ABA needed a photo for my profile so they hired Phoenix photographer Don McPhee to take it. The ABA also sent me a pair of bright red Legal Rebel Converse sneakers and said they had to be somewhere in my photo. That was the end of their instructions to me. Don and I decided we wanted to shoot at the courthouses that had interesting architectural elements in downtown Phoenix. Don and I meshed well from the start.

Ruth Carter, ABA Legal Rebel

Photo by Don McPhee Photography

Location #1: Maricopa County Superior Courthouse
Our photo shoot started at 6am on Friday, July 6th. I met Don and his assistant Max in front of the courthouse where there’s a large statue of a horse standing on a book. Even though I didn’t see any signs that said “Do Not Climb” or “Stay Off,” I knew we had limited time. I swung myself up into the saddle and we started shooting.

I think we took about 20 minutes worth of photos before we were approached by a security guard who said I couldn’t be up there for liability reasons. He informed us that we were on camera, which made me wonder how we lasted that long. We were respectful and explained what we were doing and that we did our due diligence before climbing onto the statue. When he saw that it was a legitimate photo shoot and that we were respectful he asked, “Did you get the shot you needed?”

We finished our shoot at that courthouse with pictures on the book and some cool metal pillars that stand in the courtyard. Even though it was early in the morning, I was nervous I’d see someone who knew me and would figure out what the shoot was for.

Ruth Carter, ABA Legal Rebel

Photo by Don McPhee Photography

Location #2: Arizona Supreme Court
We took a lot of photos on the North side of the Arizona Supreme Court building. We started with some windows that were at ground level that led to offices in the basement. I sat on the ledge and Don worked various angles that incorporated my reflection in the glass. It was fun listening to Don and Max banter back and forth about lighting and angles. There were always looking for opportunistic shots. Don also explained a lot to me about body positions that feel awkward when you’re doing them but look awesome on film.

Next we moved to the stairs which I think was when we hit the court security’s radar. He had a cigarette and watched us work and he only stopped us when I tried to stand on a tall wall. I suspect he thought I was a kid taking their senior portraits. I don’t know many lawyers who show up for a professional photo shoot in jeans and a t-shirt.

Location #3: Phoenix Convention Center
Our last stop was the 3rd floor of the Phoenix Convention Center, North building to shoot my video for the ABA. It’s the same place I took the Arizona Bar Exam last summer. The convention center has beautiful architectural elements. Don and Max were meticulous about the placement of my chair and the lights. It took a while to set it all up, but it was worth it. The ABA sent me a question to answer to go along with my profile. We did four takes and we were done. Don said it came out great. I didn’t want to see it because I feel weird when I watch myself on camera.

I had a blast at my photo shoot with Don and Max. I highly recommend Don McPhee photography to anyone who needs professional photos. I’ve shared more of the photos from my shoot on Carter Law Firm’s Facebook page.

Rejected by Disney

Disney Trip by veritasnoctis

My friend Stephanie Green is very creative. During law school, she re-wrote the words to several Disney songs to be about law and law school. She wrote a song about being a 1L that is set to the music of Part of Your World from The Little Mermaid. Her lyrics are fun and the music is beautiful. We talked about using her lyrics and my voice to record the song.

We knew the first thing we needed was a license from Disney to use its music. Disney is known for monitoring its copyrights and the general rule is “Disney never loses.” (I actually know of one person who fought Disney and won, but that’s an anomaly.) Given that we’re both legal eagles, we have no excuse for not jumping through the proper hoops to secure the rights to the music. If we recorded without their permission and tried to release it, I’m sure Disney would have laid the smack down on us.

I didn’t find Disney on American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), which is an organization that licenses music and collects royalties for over 435,000 artists. I searched Disney’s corporate website and sent them a message requesting to purchase a license for the song.

A few weeks later I received a response from Disney. They denied our request for a license. They said their policy is to not allow people to create substitute lyrics for their songs, particularly for people who are not affiliated with Disney.  They said they didn’t want to give us a license because it would lead to others making similar requests. I can understand that they don’t want to set themselves up to get a flood of requests and have to evaluate each request to determine when they’ll grant a license and monitor the licensees to ensure they’re not violating their license.

My favorite part of the letter was when Disney described our request as “wholesome.” I’m not used to seeing that descriptor used with one of my ideas.

I’m bummed that we were rejected by Disney, but I understand where they’re coming from. Hopefully we’ll find a way to make it work in the future.

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Love & Support for Bar Exam Takers

Postproc by Kokotron Ruth Carter

Is this you?
Postproc by Kokotron

I’ve received three calls in last week from friends who are studying for the bar exam who needed advice and support. To everyone who is studying for a bar exam and starting to freak out, I know where you’ve been. I was you a year ago.

I definitely had my freak out moments while I was studying for the bar. If it was really bad I would call my friend Eric Mayer. Every time I started to panic he told me that I would be fine if I did whatever BarBri told me to do. It was comforting to hear that. I did always feel confident that I was studying enough, but hearing that following the BarBri plan worked for others was enough to convince me that it could work for me.

I had my biggest pre-bar exam freak out sometime after BarBri class had ended and I was studying on my own every day. I like to pace when I’m going through my flash card and that day, I felt claustrophobic in my home. It’s important to note that I live in an 1800+ square-foot home and it has an open layout. There’s nothing here that should make me feel claustrophobic. My perception was completely skewed by my anxiety.

I decided I needed more space, so I slathered sunscreen on my skin, put on my Camelbak backpack filled with water and a hat, and took a 2.5-hour walk with my flash cards on a 110-degree day. I’m sure I looked like a crazy person muttering to myself while walking up the street and flipping through my cards. When I got home, my shirt was completely drenched with sweat.  Even though I was having a freak out, it turned into a pretty good day. My walk took the edge off my fear and I learned a lot about commercial paper and secured transactions in the process.

Hand Hearts by Krystal T, Ruth Carter

Hang in there!
Hand Hearts by Krystal T

By the day of the bar exam, I was ready to hit it hard. I remember standing around the convention center before the test with some of my law school friends who were older than the average student in our class. We all remarked that taking the bar exam was a challenge, but it didn’t make our lists of the top 5 hardest things we’ve done.  If you have overcome hardship in your life or survived labor and delivery, you can get through the bar exam.

If you’re studying for the July bar exam, just stay the course. Do whatever BarBri tells you to study and do whatever you need to do to memorize the law. Whatever got you through law school will still work. Make sure you’re eating well and getting though exercise and sleep. The occasional ice cream indulgence also helps ease the pain of bar prep.

If You Waste My Time, I’m Sending You A Bill

I hate going to the dentist. I’ve lived in Phoenix for over eight years and I have yet to find a dentist that I like as a person and an office I don’t dread going to. I particularly hate dentist offices that have the open setting where each patient has their own chair and equipment but you’re in a big room or a room with only three walls and you can hear and see a lot of what’s going on with other people.

Watch Coin Tails by SkrewTape

Watch Coin Tails by SkrewTape

My new dentist is no exception. I arrived about 10 minutes before my appointment time, signed in, and they ignored me for about 10 minutes before asking me to fill out the new patient paperwork.  I filled out the paperwork and waited another 15 minutes before being called back. When I made the appointment, the receptionist said each patient got a separate room – wrong! I got a bay with three walls. The dental assistant took my x-rays which aren’t fun for me and my small mouth and said it would be 5 to 7 minutes. No problem – I popped on my iPod to pass the time. Five songs later, the dentist still wasn’t there.  I took out my earbuds and chatted with the assistant for another 10 minutes.

When the dentist finally came in, he didn’t use my name, shake my hand, or look me in the eye. I was pissed. He spent about 5 minutes with me and said they’d have to schedule my cleaning for another day. I was livid. It was at that moment I decided that I need to have mutual agreements with all my providers that state we won’t waste each other’s time and if we do, we can send the other a bill. Seriously!

I will agree to be on-time for all my appointments, do any requested prep work, and fill out any paperwork they send me in advance. I expect to be seen by a provider within 10 minutes of my appointment time and not to be left waiting more than 5 minutes if I’m seeing multiple providers in a visit. If I’m made to wait more than this amount time, the clock starts ticking at I will bill them at $100/hour in .1-hour increments. If I’m ever late or unprepared, you can bill me at $100/hour in .1-hour increments if they have to wait for me. The invoice will need to be sent within 7 calendar days of the service and payment must be remitted within 30 days of the invoice date.

That seems fair, right?

For my legal eagle readers, this is a valid contract if I draft it and the provider accepts it, right? I’ll be totally upfront and send it to the provider in advance for their review. At first I just wanted to bill them for wasting my time, but I figured the billing needed to go both ways to get consideration.

I understand that sometimes things happen and people run late. Unfortunately, that’s how some people run their lives and their businesses. If you work in a service industry, you have an obligation to respect your clients’ time. I don’t know about you, but I’m busy. And I’m not just picking on dentists – this is for all service providers. If you’re going to waste my time, I want to make it worth my while.