Fee Negotiating for Lawyers – a Four Step ‘Win-Win’ Process

Some readers may have seen my article in Law Society Gazette. If not, check out http://www.lawgazette.co.uk/in-business/how-law-firms-can-improve-their-approach-negotiating-fees-1
Many clients have asked me for a process for fee negotiating and can recommend this 4 step process:
Step 1 – Client says what they want. But instead of simply getting on and doing it, as many partners are tempted to do, I’m proposing three further steps.

Step 2 – Partner says what the firm is prepared to offer. I’m aware how bold this sounds. Instead of either saying yes or being left slightly unclear what they are looking for, the lawyer asks more questions and considers replying with something perhaps slightly different, which we can call the offering. Another way of looking at this is the clients can describe what they want, but don’t always know what they need. As a legal specialist we can help them and redefine the brief, thereby adding value. But my recommended process for better contracting doesn’t end there….

Step 3 – Partner says what the firm needs from the client. I’m proposing that the legal specialist also has legitimate requests to make of the client! This may come as a shock to some of you but it works a treat. What might these requests be? Well, for starters, there’s the need for information and documents. Then I’d urge you to consider asking for responsibility for certain actions to be taken by the client’s staff and for approval deadlines to be met by the client to avoid unnecessary last minute revisions of documents (ie additional expense). Seems fair to make these requests, particularly when the client is asking for more work to be done on fixed fees.

Step 4 – Client commits to delivering the firm’s requests. This step simply involves getting commitments, ideally in writing, that the client agrees to having responsibilities for certain tasks and meeting the deadlines. By doing this, the chances of misunderstandings are minimised.

Hope you find this helpful.

Tony Reiss
tony.reiss@sherwoodpsfconsulting.com

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