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May 11, 2009

The Scramble for Value.

Susan Hackett, general counsel of the ACC, says the new approach to value is necessary because law firms had become so expensive that their fees often outstripped the value of the problem they were brought in to resolve.

The scramble for value, the debate on new models, the future of law firms--the discussion needs a touchstone. There are lots of ways to provide value to higher-end clients: hourly fees, not hourly fees, and hybrids, new firm business models, and all manner of "paradigm-shifts". But WAC? still maintains that they begin and end with customer (lawyers call them "client") relationships.

And Trust. Trust is the place of definitions for all service providers--not just for lawyers.

Anyway, here's one (via Canada's often-prescient Jordan Furlong at Law21) worth reading we missed two weeks ago from Penn's Wharton School: "Legal Strategy 101: It's Time for Law Firms to Re-think Their Business Model". A thoughtful and competent article, if a bit "lawyer-centric". I think we should just get used to it. Lawyers are not special. We are servants, if often well-paid ones.

Billing models, partnership structures, staffing alternatives, the care and feeding of associates, firm culture, collegiality--they mean nothing unless designed and maintained for clients' day-to-day needs. We are not royalty. We serve. We anticipate, prevent and solve client problems. Nothing more. Can we focus more on the real deal: the Art of the Client. What else is there?

Posted by JD Hull at May 11, 2009 12:59 AM


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