Categories
Legal Fees

Let’s play Jeopardy: I’ll take ‘Expert in Ottawa’ for $300

When I practised law in Mississauga, Ont., our fees were cheap compared to the Toronto firms, and kind of expensive compared to firms in places like Guelph, Belleville and Kingston. I occasionally wondered whether my clients might prefer to deal with firms in smaller cities at lower rates. Then I would reassure myself that doing so would be terribly inconvenient for them and that they would rather pay more to deal with me.

Now I am not so sure.

Categories
Law Firm Management

Lawyers Know Everything

Since lawyers tend to think that they know a great deal more than they do about just about everything, they often choose to do things themselves rather than pay money to experts to do them.

One of the things that lawyers typically do poorly is performance reviews.

Categories
Legal Fees

Breaking The Rules

Near the end of my career, at a time when I frequently congratulated myself (since no one else would listen) about how brilliant I was at dealing with clients, I lost a long-standing client who I will call Charles. I should have fired Charles years before and was holding onto for some twisted sentimental reason.

Categories
Legal Fees

Racing to the Bottom of the Legal Profession

Many of you will be familiar with the old saying (sometimes attributed to John Adams and other times to Winston Churchill) to the effect that “if you are not a socialist at age 20, you have no heart, but if you are still a socialist at age 30, you have no brain.”

Categories
Legal Fees

Playing The Price is Wrong

“The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten” is a quote frequently attributed to Benjamin Franklin. Quite true, but it is more complicated than that when we are dealing with things, such as legal services, that the consumer often does not understand.

Categories
Legal Fees

The Litigator’s Dream Client

Back in grade two, the class bully and I got hauled off the principal’s office who demanded to know why we were fighting in the school yard. I explained, “he said shut up. I said make me. He was making me.”  I learned fairly early in life that our words and actions have consequences.

Categories
Legal Fees

Things are Better When Someone Else Pays

Years ago, a young person I know was quite proud to show me his first credit card. I was underwhelmed and said: “Big deal. Anyone can get a credit card with their own name on it. The trick is to get a credit card with someone else’s name on it.”

I was reminded of that incident recently when I got a notice in the mail from a major insolvency firm telling me that a fund which I had unwisely invested in was insolvent, the insolvency firm had been appointed as the receiver, and a large law firm has been appointed as ‘representative counsel.’  Now I had reason to worry that all was lost.

Categories
Legal Fees

A Lawyer’s Perspective on All that Hourly Rate Nonsense

“Our policy is to push the work down to the least expensive professional resource who can provide an excellent work product, and by doing so you get the best value for your money.”  

Said every partner in a law firm, ever. And they mean it when they say it. That is in fact their policy. And in theory, some day they will figure out how to manage their law firm so that they can consistently comply with that policy. Of course, there is a difference between theory and practice. For example, in theory communism works. Not so much in practice.

Categories
Legal Fees

Live and Die by the Immoral Sword

When I completed my Articles long ago, I was not hired back.  It was a time of economic recession and jobs were difficult to come by.  I sent out many application letters and eventually accepted an offer at a small suburban firm.  The day after I accepted the job, I received a phone call from one of Canada’s largest law firms offering me an interview.  I politely declined and said that I had already accepted a position.  A family member who will go unnamed thought that I was crazy, but I had given my word and I was not going to break it.

Categories
Legal Fees

Putting In Time

Back when I started practicing law, I used to record my time on a docket sheet stapled to the inside front cover of each file.  When it came time to bill the file, all of the information that I needed was there for me to use, but I was the only one who had it.  Firm management did not have it.  They could not tell me that my docketed time for the month was too low, or that I had recorded less time than last month or how my work in process compared to the same month of the year before.  They could not easily compare my docketed time to what I had billed and tell me that my write-offs were too high, and they certainly could not look at my work in process and easily tell me how I was doing compared to other associates.