An in-your-face-firm view of what law departments ought not to be charged for

“Whatever does not add tangible value to client projects is overhead that clients should not be directly or indirectly paying for.” That was the aggressive tagline on a slide by Lee Cheng, the general counsel of Newegg. I did not hear his presentation when Cheng spoke at the most recent Consero Corporate Counsel Forum but he included on his slide pictures of fancy offices, towering high-rises, elegant artwork, and pedigreed associates.

Cheng doesn’t want his invoices to be swollen by mahogany walls, splendid views, Old Masters, and Ivied Orders of the Coif. If so, and given how hourly rates are established, he will be hard-pressed to retain what most general counsel regard as an A-level firm. Copy charges and internal messengers are one thing; the trappings of success are another.

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