Thursday, December 30, 2010
In the new legal economy, flexible fee arrangements, excellent service, personal chemistry and partnering with "virtual law firms" are key according to this story from the New York Times.
The recession has brought changes to the business of law, including lower fees and less costly billing arrangements, say industry reports and managing partners in firms large and small. And that can mean advantages for small-business owners, provided they know how to find a law firm that suits their needs and they know the right questions to ask.
Among the ideas floated by law firms and clients alike include:
- Hourly billing makes it easier for clients to contain costs versus paying a retainer (the article doesn't point out that flat fee arrangements make it even easier).
- Small business owners should seek referrals from their business peers.
- Use Primerus, which is owned by Martindale Hubbell, to help find small (and presumably cheaper), highly rated law firms.
- Get an upfront estimate of the cost of legal work and then stick to it.
- Independent practitioners should consider forming "virtual law firms" that will allow them to offer their existing clients a wider range of services by forming networks with other, independent specialists (subject, of course, to professional ethics constraints).
- Law schools can help by offering students more training in the issues faced by small businesses.
You can read the rest of the article, entitled "In the New Economy, Use New Strategies to Hire Law Firms," here.