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Don’t ask for a single budget, ask for scenarios of plausible outcomes in a matter and the associated fee estimates

Jeanne Graham, writing in the Texas Lawyer, July 1, 2009, quotes the managing partner of Beirne Maynard & Parsons. His comments on decision trees are grounded in reality (See my post of June 17, 2009: decision tree software with 6 references.)

“The firm uses decision tree analysis when creating budgets for clients, basically looking at a series of ‘what if’ scenarios and their potential costs. For instance, the first scenario might be a settlement with a plaintiff, a second scenario would be the plaintiff bringing in a third party, a third scenario would be whether the case remains in state court or is moved to federal court, he says. The firm can estimate the likelihood of each scenario, and based on the firm’s and client’s experiences, can estimate what legal action and fees will be required to deal with each, Beirne says.”

Well said; better done. Ask your firm on a major matter to project two or three plausible ways the matter might reach resolution and their estimated fees for each way.