Wednesday, January 14, 2009

collection law:"We gonna get yo Money"

One of my favorite old Saturday Night Live skits involves Tracy Morgan and a fellow cast member as “street” lawyers who promise prospective clients that “ we gonna get yo money”. I always identify with those characters. No matter how dignified we try to make it sound, much of the practice of law involves trying to collect money for people. This is especially true in the music business where there is a constant need to police the stream of royalty income that is supposed to be paid to songwriters, producers, artists, etc. as well as commission income paid to managers and other participants. Then there is the matter of collecting the regular payments for goods and services in everyday commerce.

I have represented a lot of creditors (and a fair number of debtors). I find that when trying to collect money from people, most folks fall into four categories: honest but broke, honest but disorganized, basically honest but a little slippery and blatantly dishonest. These descriptions do not apply to corporations; that’s an entirely different issue. Sometimes all people need is a gentle reminder or the suggestion of an reasonable payment schedule. Sometimes you can accomplish a lot with a firm letter. Other times it takes a lawsuit and a full blown trial. Then you have the matter of post judgment collection: can you find assets to collect upon? If you find yourself in the position of needing to collect money from some one or some entity, it is best to take proactive steps early on rather than waiting. Typically you are not the only person in line.

As the recession unfolds and businesses contract (and as bankruptcies rise in Tennessee) I can’t help but think that this is going to be a growing trend.

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