A Message From Our Chair - Neil H. Wasser
Every year for more than a decade, I’ve gotten on a plane at our firm’s expense and visited a few clients with whom I’ve never met, clients who work with Constangy attorneys on a regular basis. I always learn something new—it could be where our clients would like us to open new offices, or a story that exemplifies why they enjoy working with a particular lawyer, or thoughts about the rapidly changing legal industry landscape. And, I always like to ask them about our fees.
Let’s face it, it’s not cheap for you to defend your company against lawsuits. Clients expect to pay fair rates. In exchange, they expect more than simply case handling—they want creative solutions, applied efficiently, to their issues. Stated differently, clients want tacticians and not simply technicians working on their cases. More than any time in the past, in-house counsel and C-suite executives tell us that they are held accountable for our work and our fees in ways their predecessors never were.
I am proud to say that the vast majority of our clients report that when it comes to fees, they find our Firm not only open to creative arrangements, but proactive in offering suggestions for alternative, tailored fee arrangements ranging from blended rates, to fixed fee arrangements, to task or stage based billing, to outcome based fee arrangements, to lawyer secondments which help in-house legal teams meet short-term goals. The common denominator in my conversations with clients about fees has become their need for value, efficiency, and predictability.
A few words about efficiency and value. For Constangy, efficiency means never sending two lawyers to do what one can do, and because of our depth and breadth, it means staffing matters with the right people at the right level. It means if an issue can be resolved with a 15-minute phone call, it doesn’t get resolved with a 10-page memo costing many thousands of dollars. It means we use technology for case research and aspects of case handling, we apply our experience to case analysis, and our creativity and diversity to resolving our clients’ issues.
One thing regarding fees that I hear from clients over the years has not changed. Our client surveys also back this up: clients believe they receive value from our attorneys’ work, which equals quality of service and results for the price paid. Indeed, 97% of our clients report that they would recommend us to a colleague. I was shocked when a prominent legal consulting group said that if a firm has half its clients consenting to make referrals, that’s considered good. What is wrong with that picture?
You know we are a law firm, and a law firm is a business, and businesses need to earn profit. But because we make careful, strategic decisions—such as decisions that result in lower overhead—that means clients benefit from more efficient rates. I actually had a client tell me, “Constangy doesn’t soak my company for all it’s worth.” It was a great soundbite, and an important message that I proudly shared with our lawyers.
If I can ever answer any questions about our services or fees, or you just want to tell me how we’re doing, please contact me at my direct line, 404.230.6782 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. My cyberspace-door is always open.