Seth Godin’s recent post Breakage is a great commentary on people’s tolerance for steadily increasing rates year after year.
For the last couple of years ACC members have been at the point Seth was when he’d “get the bill, sigh about the fee, consider the hassle of switching, pay the bill and move on.” In-House Counsel are increasingly annoyed with poor resource management, never-ending rate increases, and the beaming pride law firms take in increasing PPP. To make matters worse now rumors of rate padding are surfacing. Passive consumers of legal services are being called to action and the legal landscape is rapidly changing.
Throughout 2008, ACC has been planning a revolution and there will be casualties. The opening battle is set for Sept. 26th. How much time is left to fortify relationships with clients before they are blown apart? By year’s end, who will be rushing to clean up the rubble?
When it comes to billing, the legal profession is broken. The current billable hour structure rewards inefficiencies. So which law firm will be the next to step up, take the risk, and begin to aggressively redefine billing for the profession? If it’s a top AmLaw firm the process of this change will be accelerated because everyone wants to keep up the Jones Days, O’Melvenys, Gibsons, Sidleys, and Lathams of the world.
Perhaps instead of debating “holiday cards” – electronic vs. traditional or “gifts” – charitable donation vs. logo item, law firms should start thinking about giving something that’s on their client’s wish list like reduced rates, value based fees, or alternative fee arrangements. I guarantee these are the types of presents clients will appreciate now and in the future.