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Normal and reasonable fees don’t deserve excellent services

“What clients want and need: high-quality legal services that deliver solutions at a reasonable cost.” Would that we could all pay merely reasonable amounts for high quality! Pause on this declaration in ACC Docket, Vol. 26, Oct. 2008, at Value Challenge 2.

In real life, high quality generally commands high prices while reasonable quality deserves lower prices. Clients may want high for medium, but top-flight talent commands top-shelf prices. To expect a change in that age-old equation is to fly in the face of all economics. Dialog won’t persuade capable, experienced, and smart lawyers to give away their prowess for less than the market will pay. And the market of law departments will pay handsomely (See my post of Oct. 19, 2008: we might underpay partners who make a significant difference.)

You generally get what you pay for, which means if you pay a lot you deserve a lot. You don’t deserve a lot if you pay just a reasonable amount. To get good legal services at a reasonable cost, In-house lawyers just have to say “no.” “Partner X, do not do that task with those timekeepers at this time.”