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Eight differences between “cost” and “value”

A quote in a recent article in the European Lawyer pointed out a perceived shift in discourse recently from “value” to “cost.” General counsel used to speak about value; now, more bare knuckled, they demand lower costs. Whether or not that shift is underway, I thought of Oscar Wilde’s quip: “A cynic is a man who knows the price of everything but the value of nothing.” What else does the claimed re-orientation imply in terms of differences between value and cost?

  1. Cost is objective; value is subjective.
  2. Cost means hour-based bills; value favors alternative fees.
  3. Cost favors law firms and cost-plus margins; value favors law departments and effectiveness for fees paid.
  4. Cost favors offshore, negotiation, competitive bids; value favors data analytics.
  5. Cost can be benchmarked; value is incommensurable.
  6. Cost is CFO, procurement and audit; value is lawyer and professional judgment.
  7. Cost is clear completion or deliverable; value is mitigating risks.
  8. Cost is reality; value, to co-opt a quip, is the triumph of hope over experience.
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