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