The Inevitable for Freelancers. Assignments can be canceled or postponed.

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CourtDomeCertain types of cases have defendants that are encouraged to stop the litigation or discovery process and come to a financial agreement or a punishment agreement.  In civil law this is called to settle, In Criminal law this is called to take a plea.  Procedures that are scheduled in advance will be canceled when a plea is entered or when the two parties agree to a settlement.

So you should consider the potential cancellation of a deposition or hearing or trial in civil court and a hearing or trial in criminal cases.  Part of being professional is being prepared to protect yourself financially from such losses.  At the same time, being a good professional means knowing how to not antagonize a client by penalizing them for performing in the best interests of their client.  So, know that these types of assignments can be cancelled at any time by the attorney, the court or the agency.  And learn what your market standard is for a minimum charge for a cancellation during a certain time frame.

Assignments can be postponed.

       In civil court, a trial can be postponed if the Judge decides to order the parties to go to mediation.  Interpreters may not be necessary during mediation.  The parties may come to an agreement and settle as a result of mediation so you will lose the assignment altogether.  Or they may not settle and the trial would be rescheduled.

         It is important to hold on to your client and not make over burdensome demands but preserve your financial integrity.  You have to know the possible change of direction the legal process can take that can turn a postponement into income producing assignment or a loss.  You should have a postponement policy in place that you ask the client to agree to, in writing, when you first accept the assignment or enter into a contract with your client.  It is considered unprofessional to notify the client of a change in terms or fees after you accept an assignment.  But much like what the parties experience in the outcome of a mediation, you are going to have to accept less of your goal fee and the client is going to have to pay more than they hoped they would.  This is a situation when you should blend familiarity of your market standards with flexibility in your terms.

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