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A suggestion about the value equation law departments and law firms are struggling over

More readers downloaded my article on value propositions than anything I have posted in my five years of blogging. If you missed it, here it is again.

Meanwhile, an ad by Grant Thornton made a light bulb go off. The ad shows a formula: “Service Quality/Fees = Value.” Sounds so simple, but it implies that a qualitative judgment (service quality) is divided by a quantitative number (fees). That doesn’t work. All you really have from the ad is a restatement of the truism that satisfaction in relation to what you pay equals perceived worth.

To do something mathematical and more objective, law departments as a group need to have standard, quantified rating systems for their lawyers to evaluate the contribution of their firms. Timeliness of 1 means “often late.” Timeliness of 2 means “at times late.” Timeliness of 3 means “gets work done on time.” And so on for each of five to seven common attributes.

If used consistently and by many lawyers in a department, it would be mathematically possible to divide levels of satisfaction with service – translated to consistent and comparative figures – by the amounts paid firms. In this positivist approach, value becomes a value, a numeric proxy, and the otherwise subjective and squishy assessment gains a measure of definitiveness.