Billable hours have been back in the news over the past month thanks to a dispute between DLA Piper and one of their clients over legal bills. The client refused to pay the bill, claiming DLA Piper overstaffed its files and performed unnecessary work. Emails from former DLA Piper attorneys (“Churn that bill, baby!”) surfaced during discovery, underscoring the problem. DLA Piper called the emails “unprofessional” and “an offensive and inexcusable attempt at humor,” but said that the billing was appropriate for the work performed.
Getting more business and meeting potential new clients are constantly on lawyers’ minds. But in chasing new business, too many lawyers overlook their best possible source of referrals: former clients. Marketing initiatives intended to help to meet new people are important, but lawyers also need systems in place to stay in touch with former clients who already know the lawyer, have experienced the lawyer’s service and have paid for it.
Whether you have the kind of law practice which lends itself to repeat business or not, it makes sense to stay in touch with former clients on a consistent basis. Even if your former clients are not likely to need your services again, statistics show that repeat clients spend more and refer more. But if you’re not on their radar, they might not remember to refer to you.
On January 22, 2013, the New York Times ran an article entitled, “Experts Debate Two Year Law School Option.” According to the article, New York State Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman is interested in a proposal that would allow law students to sit for the New York Bar Exam after completing only two years of law school. The proposal was made at New York Law School on January 18 during a panel discussion on legal education. Some reasons cited for the proposal include the rising cost of a law school education and the poor job market, along with the perception that the third year of law school consists mostly of “filler” classes without much value. Keep Reading ⇒
Client selection is one of the most important and most overlooked levers for lawyers’ success. Much attention is paid to marketing and client acquisition, but much less emphasis is placed on determining whether lawyers are attracting and working with the right kinds of clients.
Not every client is a good client. Some clients are downright awful and they shift your focus away from the good, high value clients who might bring you more business.
A local law school Dean recently commented that women seem to be backsliding in the legal profession. She cited lower female enrollment in law schools, lack of women in law firm leadership positions, and stagnant growth in the ranks of women in the judiciary. Her comment surprised me. Are women losing ground in law? Perhaps it’s time to look at some statistics.
Client service leads to client satisfaction. But in a recent Lawyerist post, Roy Ginsburg warned lawyers that clients may not be as satisfied as their lawyers think they are; merely because clients pay their bills, do not complain, and do not switch to another firm does not necessarily mean they are satisfied. Unfortunately, his post did not address what lawyers can do to improve client service and thereby improve client satisfaction. Keep Reading ⇒
In a recent article from legalweek.com “Defining value in law firm billing: art or science?”, author Tim Bratton notes that despite all of the discussion about alternative fee arrangements, the focus of in-house counsel continues to be on billable hours as a standard for measuring ‘value,’ even while all involved seem to concede that time does not actually equate to value. He laments the continued conversation among in-house and outside counsel about alternative fees, claiming that
[M]ost if not all … fixed fee deals … are reverse engineered into an hourly rate, give or take a bit…. [and] the number I come up with in my own mind as representing ‘value’ is still based at least in part on my own assumptions of the blended hourly rate of the combined legal team on a project and the time I think it will take them to do the job in question. Keep Reading ⇒