I’m flipping through the e-alerts I get and today alone law firm layoffs are hitting DLA Piper and Dechert.
According to the American Lawyer, Revenue is flat and profits are down at Skadden, S&C, Davis Polk, and Dewey.
And the news isn’t better across the Pond. Redundancy talks are on (again) at Clifford Chance and Linklaters.
So I was surprised to read that Linklaters chief, David Cheyne, rejects calls to cut legal fees.
“You have to be very careful you don’t treat your best clients worse than you treat those you are trying to get work from – it is a habit of lawyers to try to do that, and I think it is a particularly stupid one. Clients are not foolish themselves – they get wind of what’s going on, but they do not necessarily respect a law firm that comes round and says we will do the work that your existing law firm will do, but for a third less, because they might have doubts as to whether a firm is really able to deliver quality at a suicide rate.”
Really? I just completed an RFP for a Fortune 20 company, and not the first, which basically asked, can you do X and for how much. No examples of our success in these areas. No prose describing our breadth and depth of experience. Just, can you do it? How much? And what kind of alternative fee arrangements are you willing to provide. Period.
I’m sure a Round 2 “beauty contest” will tackle these finer issues and more, but to make the first cut, it’s your rates.
Slaughter and May partner Nigel Boardman thankfully countered Mr. Cheyne:
“Supply remains constant for employers pretty much, but demand is going down. That means you have to move your price. Good quality firms can move their price down and still be busy.”