What's it worth?

An interesting thing happens when a client asks me how much I charge for my work.  I physically tighten up.  My voice falls a few octaves.  I begin speaking faster.  I am defending myself and my worth.  Inevitably the client will bring up what other attorneys charge as if to infer "why do you charge more?" without actually saying it.  

Recently, I've reframed that question.  When a client asks "How much do you charge?" I take a breadth and say "The question is: What's it worth?"  What is it worth to you to make sure your real estate transaction worth $1,000,000.00 is handled by an attorney and not a paralegal?  What is worth to you to ensure that your Bankruptcy goes smoothly, since we don't do volume?  I make the client think about what they're worth.  Are they worth just as little as what the other firms may charge?  Maybe.  But maybe they're worth more, because, like anyone else, they feel that they're special.  Their circumstances demand knowledge and attention.

One interesting aspect of this is some clients will still say "OK, but I still don't see a reason I should pay $1000 more."  That's OK.  That's their worldview, and you'll never change it.  In fact, you'd butt heads if you tried.  They'll never think that (insert profession) should charge (insert price) because (insert worldview/experience/anecdotal evidence) etc.  You've done both you and your potential client a favor by moving on.  Like Madonna and an accountant from Tulsa, you're not meant from each other. It's good that you realized that instead of trying to make it fit.  You're both better for it.