If the matter is big, forget alternative fee arrangements

Many observers believe that general counsel, when they retain a law firm for a high profile matter, pay little or no heed to the potential cost. In relation to the risks involved (to companies and to careers), a few hundred thousand dollars, or even a few million dollars, means little.

“As a result, there is an inverse relationship between the likelihood of negotiating an alternative free arrangement and the seriousness of the legal matter facing the company.” That is the bleak but pragmatic conclusion stated in Altman Weil’s Rep. to Legal Mgt., Vol. 35, Nov./Dec. 2007 at 1 (See my post of Feb. 28, 2006: bet-the-company litigation, rare but often cited.). I have sympathy for that conclusion, but think it also fair to point out that expensive, long-running matters at least offer more opportunities for experimentation on alternative fee arrangements – even if just for parts of the work – than do small, quick matters.

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