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LawBiz® TIPS – Week of June 30, 2015

LawBiz(r) newsletter

"Experience is a hard teacher because it gives the test first and the lesson afterwards."

That's why coaching is so good ... the teacher has already learned the lessons and can pass his/her test results on to the mentee ...

"No" = "convince me. After "no" comes "yes" but to get there, one must persevere.

"Failure is what happens on the way to success."

"Crisis is an opportunity riding on a dangerous wind!"

"A turtle moves ahead only by sticking out its neck."

"The mind is like a parachute; it only works when it's open."

The beginning of the Summer comes with great promise and heat ... let's warm the paths of success as we move forward ... and adopt the most personally resonant of the above parables.

Ed signature

Fees: Make Sure the Price Is Right

Autonomy may seem like the watchword when it comes to fees, but that is not entirely true. Although a lawyer does have a lot of latitude and independence in terms of pricing, ethics is also a consideration.

When setting their billing rates, lawyers have only one formal requirement. According to ABA Model Rule of Professional Conduct 1.5, "a lawyer shall not make an agreement for, charge, or collect an unreasonable fee." The Code defines reasonableness by such factors as the following:

  • The time and labor required

  • The novelty and difficulty of the questions involved

  • The skill requisite to perform the legal service properly

  • The customary local fee for similar services

  • The amount involved and the results obtained

  • The time limitations imposed by the matter

  • The experience, reputation, and ability of the lawyer

So, are lawyers who charge $1,000 an hour "reasonable"? How about $100 an hour?

Although it may seem that pricing is a free-for-all with no real boundaries whatsoever, the fact is that there are boundaries. There are market-place boundaries and ethical boundaries. These boundaries were delineated by famous lawyer Abraham Lincoln in notes for a law lecture:

The question of fees is important, far beyond the mere question of bread and butter involved. Properly attended to, fuller justice is done to both lawyer and client. An exorbitant fee should never be claimed. As a general rule never take your whole fee in advance, nor any more than a small retainer. When fully paid beforehand, you are more than a common mortal if you can feel the same interest in the case, as if something was still in prospect for you, as well as for your client. And when you lack interest in the case the job will very likely lack skill and diligence in the performance.

Today's environment for lawyers is different than then. And whether we seek an hourly fee or a fixed/flat fee, the client must still perceive that he/she is receiving value for the engagement.


Fees: Make Sure the Price Is Right

Check out this month's special!

LawBiz® Registry: Buy or Sell Your Practice

Ed Poll on YouTube

Buy or Sell Your Practice 

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New Life After Law Coaching Program



"Through Ed's invaluable coaching and no-nonsense approach, I was able to not only stay employed at the firm, but to make partner and have a future with the firm."

Los Angeles, CA

"Ed knew the right questions to make me answer. He has taught me virtually everything I know about formation, planning, and now management of a successful law firm."

Los Angeles, CA


Ed Poll, LawBiz® Management   |   |   |   |


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