With all the hullaballoo about fees – discounts, fixed, blended, effective, contingent – we have overlooked a much more significant lever to shift costs: the law firm and its staffing and billing practices. A firm’s number of lawyers and its billing ethos go together; bigger firms have a bigger cars to move, so to speak, and therefore press harder on both the staffing and billing pedals.
I am gravitating toward the belief that law departments need to change firms, not fees, to really move the needle. Put metaphorically, a fixed-fee arrangement with an expensive firm is hoping the emu can high jump. Hourly billing by a frugal firm is not worrying about a hummingbird over-eating.