Least-favored billing commitments by law firms

I previously considered most-favored nation (MFN) commitments by law firms, and found them wanting (See my posts of Oct. 30, 2005 and Nov. 21, 2005.). Even so, I would not accept the justification given by a law firm that refuses an MFN guarantee, rate discounts, or other alternative fee arrangements because “if we do it for you, we’ll have to do it for everyone.”

That argument is flimsy. Billing rates should not be monolithic for any lawyer – fixed for the year no matter what the lawyer is doing or for what client under what circumstances. Even less should rates be fixed by year out of law school or on some other broad band of lawyer, such as third year partners. (See my post of Nov. 21, 2005 on law firms linking rate increases to productivity increases.)

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