World’s largest law firm institutes minimum fee requirements for new clients

My friend, Pete Benedetti of doeLegal passed on to me an interesting item. It will rankle general counsel. Legal Week reported that DLA Piper, soon to be the largest law firm in the world, has distributed to partners a 2011-2014 strategic plan that sets a minimum fee requirement for new clients.

What Pete sent says that “New clients will have to commit to a minimum annual legal spend with the firm, understood to be around €25,000 (£21,000) in the first year of instruction for clients of DLA Piper International where there is no potential conflict and €100,000 (£86,000) for those where there could be a conflict. The firm’s US arm is thought likely to implement a minimum billing threshold of $200,000 (£126,000) for all new clients.”

The minimum spend requirement is supposed to reduce the number of situations where DLA Piper finds itself “prevented from taking on large instructions after previously accepting smaller mandates.”

If I were a general counsel, possibly interested in hiring DLA Piper, this investment hurdle would chill my enthusiasm. Do I want to commit $200,000 or more when I’ve never used the firm? Unless the firm offers something unavailable elsewhere, why go through the hassle of understanding the terms of this limitation and possibly suffering some punitive situation if the deal collapses, the case settles, or the threshold is not met?

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