I love actual data about law departments, hardly a surprise to steady readers, so I appreciate when data appears on what law firms charge per hour or per type of service (See my post of June 2, 2010: CT TyMetrix Real Rate Report; Oct. 14, 2010: AIPLA data; and Oct. 22, 2010: AFA data from LexisNexis CounselLink.). I can foresee, however, that law firm leaders will balk at submitting their invoices electronically if the intermediary service provider discloses that data, even in the aggregate.
The foreseeable next step will be disclosure of what law firms charge on average for common tasks, such as reviewing 10K disclosures, updating pension plans, or preparing a response to an EEOC charge. Law firm leaders will oppose price transparency because the information will inexorably press fees down. Just as car dealers have little room to negotiate when all cost data stares out from the Internet, so law firms will not want the lowest-common denominator of publicly-available prices to drive fee arrangements.