If there is a dispute over a bill, you as the inside lawyer should set the amount

A piece in Corp. Counsel, Jan. 2011 at A2, expresses the views of a partner with the Butler Rubin firm. Under “fairness and integrity in billing” he describes and approves a rule that a mentor of his espoused. “If a client questioned a bill, he would tell the client to set the fee and he would abide by the client’s judgment in the matter.”

That acceptance of the client’s perception, where there is a dispute on value delivered, stands out as a wise deferral by the partner. For their part, clients – notably in-house lawyers who supervise outside counsel – should discuss that way to resolve disputes, before they occur. If that method of resolution is baked into the relationship, it is a step toward assuring that clients perceive legal services to be worth the fees they pay.

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