I read the following headline over the weekend on CorporateCounsel.com.
“Really?” I thought to myself. My instant reaction reading those words was, “Yes, it is. You just choose not to.”
You choose to focus more on your needs, your fears, and your future than those of your clients. You focus so much energy trying to maintain the status quo that you forget what it means to serve your clients.
One area where this is apparent is billing practices. Too many law firms insist that they must bill based on time. This is a big issue for budget-conscious general counsel. If your client wants something different, why do you continue to insist on hourly billing?
As stated in the CorporateCounsel.com article, Jim Jones, the lead author of the 2015 Report on the State of the Legal Market, thinks that,
“…corporate law departments could abandon the hourly rate even more, but they mistakenly believe they don’t have the capability to value work properly without hourly billing as a guide. “I’ve never really quite understood it, because in an era where there are increasingly already competitive processes to do the work, why can’t you rely on the market?” he said.” [Emphasis added.]
I find it really hard to believe that smart lawyers can’t figure out an alternative method to “value the work properly”. I also don’t believe this inability is a “mistaken” belief. I believe it’s willful ignorance.
“We don’t know how to bill any other way” is a bad excuse.
So what is the driver? It has to be resistance to change.
I get it. You’ve never done things any other way and that makes you uncomfortable. But you can’t use that as an excuse.
You are a service provider, and you are one of many. There are thousands of lawyers who do the legal work that you do. Why should your client choose to work with you? Why should they work with you if you’re not providing what they need in the manner that they need it? Someone else will.
If your clients are asking for something different, stop resisting.
Your clients decide whether or not they need the services you provide. They also decide whether or not they will accept the way you deliver those services, not you.
It’s not about you, your fears and what makes you uncomfortable. If you want to make your clients happy and improve your bottom-line, you have to serve the needs and interests of your client, even if it scares you.
If you want to make your clients happy, put your clients needs above your fears. It’s not hard to make your clients happy when that’s what you choose to do.