A client always wants solid legal advice. Often fast, and ideally also for a reasonable price. Obviously, everyone wants to have front row seats for free, but how reasonable is that? It is for a reason that people say “You pay peanuts, you get monkeys.”
Price, speed, quality
In discussions about business model innovation in the legal industry a lot is said about alternatives for hourly billing. However, pricing is not the only variable in the mix. Not so often mentioned, but at least as important is the timing of the delivery of the work.
Do you accept lower quality?
Clients will not easily accept lower quality legal advice. However, it depends on how quality is defined. If a client accepts prefab contracts, than that is another level of quality. It does not necessarily have to be worse. You pay peanuts, you get robots.
Can the work be delivered later?
The third variable in the mix is the timing of delivery. If a matter needs to be finished over the weekend and top legal advice is required, be prepared to hit the jackpot… If your work is not extremely urgent, why would lawyer and client not be able to discuss the timing of the delivery?
Take Uber for an example. Taking a Uber cab on New Years Eve can cost you six times as much as on a regular Sunday morning. The infamous Uber surge pricing.
Manage your workload
Lawyers will probably recognize working an allnighter only to be told in the morning that the deadline was moved again. If these badly communicated deadlines would be penalized, lawyer and client have an incentive to find a better managed workload. The client, because the work will be cheaper. The lawyer, because he or she will not have a burn-out before turning 30.
Imagine that you are a lawyer who can fill a pipeline of work in this way. This would help you maintain a better work-life balance for your personnel. It would also allow you to keep your people busy during the low tide by pushing certain deadlines forward. That’s probably worth a nice discount!
It is obviously important to be extremely clear in communicating true deadlines. For instance, you can agree on an ultimate start and enddate. As a client you may want to make sure that your case is not worked on every now and then. Unless you agreed on a fixed fee, in which case it is up to the lawyer to manage his matters smartly.
Main question is whether clients are willing to work and plan in this way. I have seen fee quotes where exceeding the deadline resulted in a higher fee. However, I have never seen it applied to the start of a project with a season-based time window for its execution. I am curious if someone has ever tried this approach and what the results were of this experiment!