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Don’t even consider termination premiums with your law firms

“Similarly, the parties can and should consider termination premiums in the event that a client abandons the project midstream or, having learned the lawyer’s strategy, opts to engage less-expensive counsel.” This sentence, from Law Practice, Vol. 35, June 2009 at 53, is riddled with quarrelsome points.

No client should owe a law firm anything more than the fees incurred or agreed to be paid, even if a client ends a project, settles a case, or changes direction. No client owes anything to a law firm for future work taken away.

I also think it fanciful that a law department would “learn a strategy,” and then implement it with cheaper counsel. Strategy and implementation are not divorced, I would point out. Further, the idea raises a whole new basis (unlikely though it may be) for when to transition cases (See my post of Sept. 12, 2008: transfer matters to new counsel with 8 references.).