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Law departments are at least partially to blame if law firms don’t deliver value for their fees

When a lawyer who retains a law firm knows the value of the work the lawyer wants, there should be few gaps between fees charged and fees paid. If the instructions are clear – “Do not spend more than $2,000 on this research/draft/review/deliberation,” how can the firm diverge very far?

Sometimes, therefore, criticisms about divergence between benefit delivered and fees paid reflects shoddy instructions to the firm (See my posts of Nov. 11, 2007 on this debate; and Feb. 4, 2007 on the difficulty of stating a dollar value for what a firm accomplishes.).

Further, the more your external counsel understand your business, the more likely they are to be in tune to how their costs and effort ought to stack up against your gains (or risks avoided). Again, the culprit when there is a mismatch between legal costs and value might be the in-house lawyer who failed to put the legal work expected to be done in a realistic business context.