Browse Archives | Subscribe | Home

LawBiz® TIPS – Week of April 30, 2013

LawBiz(r) newsletter

Today, I want to share with you a true story about a dog and a cowboy in Texas. It is an incredible story and one of great inspiration. I hope you take the time, about 8 minutes, and enjoy and marvel at the dog as much as I did. See video.
Ed signature

What Does Value Billing Really Mean?

Recently I received a call from a lawyer who intended to start value billing and wanted a template to do so. My response was that there is no such thing. How any firm approaches the concept of value billing - charging for the worth of a service, not the cost in terms of time expended - depends on the firm's culture, its practice areas and the needs and sophistication of its clients. A firm that wants an automated process, one that operates without thinking or effort, epitomizes the very problem that value billing is meant to solve.

Until well into the post-World War II era, legal fees were based not only on time spent, but also the nature of the service, the result achieved and the amount at stake. Charging an appropriate legal fee was a matter of professional judgment. That changed in the 1960s when clients and their insurance carriers began demanding template billing statements and lawyers used time records as a management tool to produce them. Using hourly rates, most bills are features lists: this is what I did, this is the time it took and this is what you owe. That approach breeds dissatisfaction among clients, because it doesn't address value and benefits - the worth, as opposed to the cost, of the service.

This is not to say that value billing should return to vague buzzwords. All lawyers, solo practitioners and members of BigLaw alike, can structure what they do to consistently encourage a high client perception of value. Basic elements of that include:

  • Ensure that all client inquiries receive a prompt response by phone or email.

  • Provide clients with helpful insights and updates about their business sector, without their having to ask for them.

  • Prepare clients for interactive events such as negotiation sessions, depositions, and testimony so they know what to expect and are prepared for what might happen.

  • Never make promises that can't be kept. Particularly with a new initiative, focus consistent, well-planned effort on one project only, to define expectations of value and service.

  • Regularly ask clients for feedback to gauge their satisfaction with the service provided, rather than on the results achieved.

Such value-added elements will produce billing statements that are easy to understand and that clearly list actions taken on the client's behalf while relating them to the time it took to realize that value. The information will be more meaningful to the client, and will go beyond a mere one-size-fits-all template that will simply be self-defeating for firm and client.

Ed Poll's Life After Law
50% OFF - Special Prepublication Price!

Life After Law

until June 1
(reg. $49)

ebook, $19
(reg $25)

What Will You Do with the Next 6,000 Days?

To Order: 1-800-837-5880 or order online at

With an eye on balancing the professional and personal fronts, Ed guides readers through the steps:

  • Choosing retirement on your own terms

  • Guarding clients' welfare in the event of disability or death

  • Transferring client and rainmaking responsibilities

  • Charting an exit from a multi-partner firm

  • Strategizing the sale or closure of a practice

Plus, you'll find essential counsel on how to guard your retirement nest egg and create a fulfilling post-practice life! Learn more.

In this issue:

What Does Value Billing Really Mean?

Ed Poll's Life After Law... 50% OFF

Video: No, It's Not the Same: Pricing vs. Billing, Part 1

Featured Video:
(click image below to view)

Ed Poll on YouTube video

YouTube LawBiz Forum
FaceBook Twitter

What Clients Are Saying:

"I felt 'stuck,' but I didn't know how to market myself to clients or to other firms. Ed provided a solid rounding of me to evaluate my current situation and a platform from which I could start growing my own practice."

San Francisco, CA

"I look at Ed as my business partner now – my once a week essential business meeting to take the pulse of my practice. During our one-hour phone conversations, we hash out the larger and smaller business challenges of my law firm. I always come away from those conversations enlarged, challenged, and sometimes even quite shaken, but with the tools necessary to move forward down the path he and I are constantly redefining for me and my firm."

Northern California

Ed Poll, LawBiz® Management   |   |   |
©2013 LawBiz® Management. All rights reserved.

This LawBiz Tips E-Zine is categorized for the following audience(s):

This LawBiz Tips E-Zine is listed under the following categories: