For years people have told me that general counsel strongly value predictability of legal fees, even if that means higher fees. I have doubted that statement. I doubt it because the total amount spent during a year on outside firms is the measure, not whether the law department hit its budget number pretty closely or smoothed out its monthly payments.
But perhaps I underrate the adverse consequences to a general counsel of coming in either much higher or much lower than budget. It throws off the calculations of the financial department.
Predictability is good; budgets have a purpose and take on a life of their own; and management of amounts spent outside is a game worth playing well (See my post of Nov. 17, 2006: survey finds that predictability favors alternative fee arrangements; Nov. 13, 2006: claim by Eversheds that clients demand predictability; and May 2, 2007: e-billing may enable more predictability.).