Posts tagged: Client

When Fee Exceeds Value

I present a number of seminars to PA attorneys in which I strongly make the point that billing is more art than science; however if an attorney approaches it from the perspective of  hours x rate = You owe me, the lawyer has missed the point.  From the client’s point of view, it’s about value received being equal to or greater than dollars billed.  I additionally stress that billing should  not be deemed a chore, but rather an opportunity to communicate ones continued value to the client.

Read this ABA Journal Law News Now article entitled “Judge scolds BigLaw over fee request for research on ‘basic and banal’ legal principals.” In a matter which was worth approximately $40K, the firm billed $126K, and asked the court to make the client pay.  Really?  It isn’t obvious that this was excessive to someone, anyone, at that firm who touched this transaction?  I hope the firm involved is sufficiently embarrassed by the ensuing bad press.  (This story has appeared online in several notable publications.) They obviously  have no notion of value from a client’s perspective.

I have frequent conversations with attorneys who tell me horrific stories of having referred cases for trusted clients to other attorneys they think they know well, only to be contacted later by that same client who is angry over the referral.  In 9 out of 10 cases it has nothing to do with skill, but rather “blowing through retainers in a heartbeat,”  “billing an amount far in excess of the value of the matter,” and “failing to communicate regarding the investment status of outstanding time/costs until the matter is a done deal.”

Every lawyer, regardless of the number of years in practice, should be required to read Jay Foonberg’s book “How to Draft Bills Clients Rush to Pay” at least once.  You can buy it from the ABA bookstore here.

 

 

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