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With the Virtual Pricing Director Pricing Espresso® we aim to bring you your pricing 'shot' - some of the most interesting, thought-provoking and informative material we can find globally which will be of interest, relevance and help to you in your firms' pricing challenges.


Talking with Richard Burcher: A deep dive into today's legal pricing landscape

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Pricing legal services is an ongoing challenge for law firms. Today’s advanced technology (e.g., AI, machine learning, GPT-3 models) is adding complexity to the task. Today’s episode of The Legal Helm features pricing expert, Richard Burcher. The conversation covers a lot of ground, including how to get buy in, what increases revenue right now, and where legal pricing is heading. Enjoy!


Law firms warn of tougher fee negotiations and payment delays

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Companies seek to cut legal costs by requesting discounts and payment delays.

Companies are seeking to cut their legal bills as they struggle with rising input costs and interest payments, some of the largest law firms have warned.

The heads of three global firms told the Financial Times that corporate clients were asking for discounts on their legal bills or requesting payment be postponed until later in the year. Read more...

Beneficiary allowed to challenge firm's fees after fourfold rise

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The High Court has allowed a will beneficiary to challenge a costs bill which rose significantly from its original estimate.

Kent firm Thomson Snell & Passmore had been retained to administer the estate of Philippa Cunnick, who died in 2019, by the sole executor. The firm’s original estimate for its fees was between £10,000 and £15,000, but the total final bill was £54,410. Read more...

As Law Firms Push Aggressive Rate Increases, Clients Have Room to Negotiate

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Some rate increases last year were "shocking at the high end," according to a new rate report, noting about 15% of Am Law 100 firms increased their rates between 10% and 20%.

The Am Law 100 showed wide disparity in billing rate increases last year, depending on the law firm and the practice area, from hiking up rates by more than 20% to almost no increases.

Some law firms are expected to continue aggressive rate increases this year, analysts said. But rate increases across the legal industry haven’t been as big as the conventional wisdom implies, and clients have more room to negotiate than they probably realize, according to the latest LegalVIEW Insights report from Wolters Kluwer ELM Solutions. Read more...

Swept Up in 'Awe,' Legal Departments Fail to Push Back on Rates at Biggest Law Firms

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"Rate increases are not, as the defeatists would argue, always inevitable and always inevitably high, although they are more likely to be both in the case of a buyer with a lackadaisical approach to rate management," according to a new report by Wolters Kluwer ELM Solutions.

Corporate legal departments have substantial negotiating power over the hourly rates at both small and large law firms, but limit most of their pushback to smaller firms, according to a new report from Wolters Kluwer ELM Solutions. Read more...

Almost half of US lawyers see no rate increases in 2022, Wolters Kluwer report shows

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Some 27% of law firm timekeepers saw no increase, while 13% saw average rates go down.

In-house legal departments are fending off rate increases at some of the largest US law firms, with 40% of law firm timekeepers across all firms seeing average fees stay the same or fall, according to a Wolters Kluwer report.

Between July 2021 and June last year, 32% of timekeepers at AmLaw 100 firms saw no rate increases, compared to 27% for all firms, according to Wolters Kluwer ELM Solutions’ latest LegalVIEW Insights report. Read more...

This Law Firm Sued Its Former Associates for Missing Their Billable Hour Targets

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"It's a good system for people that want to work hard, and want to put in the time," one of the firm's founding partners told

A North Dakota law firm was vindicated in court after suing two of its former associates for failing to bill the required number of hours in exchange for a fixed pay rate.

Family law firm Larson Latham Huettl in Bismarck, North Dakota, brought breach-of-contract claims against two of its now-former attorneys, Thomas Burckhard and Travis Iversen, both of whom started working for the firm in early 2019. Read more...

'Good Choices' on Geography, Billing Rates Push Quarles to Record Revenue

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The firm increased its billing rates for this year and last year, said the firm's leader, noting Quarles has been a bit too modest on rates compared with its peers.

Riding steady client demand, a more aggressive approach on billing rates, and a mix of burgeoning secondary markets, Quarles & Brady notched double-digit gains in revenue, average compensation, and net income in 2022. Read more...

ChatGPT’s rise means billable hours will ‘inevitably decline’

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The time-based billing model has come under significant scrutiny in recent years, and now, with the emergence of technologies like ChatGPT, billables are at further risk.

The rise of ChatGPT, and no doubt similar platforms in the near future, are set to change — perhaps incrementally, but ultimately maybe radically — how legal services are performed. Read more...

Law Firms Boost Fixed and Contingency Fees Amid Uncertain Economy

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Several law firm leaders said they're getting more revenue from alternative fee arrangements or ramping up their ability to put them together.

Law firms have been negotiating more fixed and contingency fee arrangements with their clients in the last year or so, firm leaders and consultants say, amid a desire for certainty amidst an unsteady economy, along with a pick-up in litigation and Big Law’s growing pricing acumen.

Several law firm leaders said they’re getting more revenue from such fee arrangements, or that they’re at least ramping up their ability to put them together. Read more...

Here's How Clients Can Push Back on Law Firm Rate Hikes

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If you’re a client, you don’t want to miss this conversation with Nathan Cemenska, director of legal operations and industry insights for Wolters Kluwer ELM Solutions.

It’s that time of the year once again, when law firms pledge to hike up their rates and in-house attorneys grumble and groan about the rising cost of doing business with Big Law.

But if you’re a client, you don’t want to miss this episode, in which we sit down with Nathan Cemenska, director of legal operations and industry insights for Wolters Kluwer ELM Solutions, which just put out a report on rate increases across the Am Law 100. Read more...

'This Really Makes Good Law': Insurance Lawyer Applauds Florida Ruling on Legal Fees

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"The reason we challenge something like that is because ... that's a lot of money," said Michael J. Neimand, counsel for United Automobile Insurance Co.

A Florida appeals court made a couple of rulings that lawyers say set new precedent for the insurance industry.

And one insurance company attorney is glad for the new clarifications about legal fees for lawyers’ pre-suit or pre-litigation time during the investigatory stage, when evidence can be collected and inventoried before a claim is made to the court. Read more...

There's Officially No Excuse to Keep Accepting Excessive Law Firm Rate Hikes

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If ever there was a time for clients to make good on their threats to boycott excessive law firm rate hikes, it's now.

If ever there was a time for clients to make good on their threats to boycott excessive law firm rate hikes, it’s now.

The Driver

In-house legal departments have garnered their fair share of criticism—including in this column—for constantly griping about law firm rate increases but ultimately offering little actual resistance to them. Read more...

Practical tips on improving your law firms profitability in volatile times

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Following this weeks fantastic #BriefingLive event from Briefing Legal, I thought now would be a good time to share some of the advice gained from legal leaders, both at the event and through my years of working with law firms. I also think it is vital that during a period of tough economic change, where costs are spiralling, it is even more important now to double down on how you as lawyers and partners understand profitability, and to take a fresh look at how best to prove the value of your services to your clients. Read more...

Buying Legal Council Taps New Leadership as Founder Steps Back

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The company's educational program is effectively a "mini law school" for business professionals, complete with best practices seminars, boot camps on pricing techniques, and even a certification in legal procurement fundamentals.

As legal costs explode across the industry, the premier organization for educating corporate procurement professionals on buying legal services has announced a change in leadership. Read more...

Is time running out for the billable hour?

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The billable hour is a term and concept cemented in the practice of law. In recent years, some lawyers have argued that it may be time to rethink the billable hour. While this seems unlikely, Minnesota Lawyer reached out to two individuals—one in the legal industry and another in creative services—to talk about whether this is advisable or possible.

Law has been practiced without the billable hour. In 1958, the ABA published a pamphlet called “The 1958 Lawyer and His 1938 Dollar” in which it explained how lawyers earned less than dentists. It encouraged lawyers to keep more accurate time records and become more business-like. Enter the billable hour. By the 1970s, the billable hour became standard practice. Read more...

Stop Sending Proposals! Increase Your Win Rate With This Trick

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I’ve been thinking a lot about the RFP process—and how broken it is. Don’t worry! This isn’t another article about why RFPs are the devil. Rather, why are we in an industry that requires people with expertise to run through this rigamarole?

In my personal life, I’m spending a lot of time interviewing professionals for certain things our family and home need. In every instance, I have a conversation with the professional, and they spend some time asking me questions and, in many cases, educating me on the things I don’t know. Read more...

Can Law Firms Hold the Line on Layoffs and Billing Rates in 2023?

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"The top 200 firms should hold back on raising rates to fill their shortfall for 2023, as clients are watching and weighing alternatives," recommends a new report.

Many large law firm leaders were counting on aggressive rate increases coming into 2023. Some analysts said if they didn’t get them, they’d have to start living with lower profits—or start laying off people.

But a new report suggests the Am Law 200 can have their cake and eat it too, by keeping rate increases and personnel where they are, in hopes of a comeback in demand later this year. Read more...

RFPs Hit a Screeching Halt

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Everyone hates RFPs. Clients. Law firms.

And now clients are changing how they use them. They are not.

Like so many things arising from the pandemic era — we are looking at extremes. Only 11.2% of clients are preparing to issue an RFP, with another 10.2% thinking about it. This is down from 32% of clients who issued RFPs in 2020 — a record high. Here’s what the other 78.6% are doing: Read more...


Costs: Reviewing 2022 and the year ahead

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Hourly Rates

Since the long awaited update of the 2010 Guideline Hourly Rates, which were introduced in October 2021, issues of retrospectivity have naturally been a talking point and gained judicial attention. Read more...

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The coming together of these 3 power-house firms has enabled us to create something truly revolutionary. I have no doubt that Virtual Pricing Director® is going to drastically alter, for the good, the way lawyers price-up work” Richard Burcher, Managing Director, Validatum®, Chairman, Virtual Pricing Director® & Legal Pricing Academy®


Whether you are just starting out on your pricing career or are already highly experienced, whether you want to undertake some ‘light-touch’ professional development or aspire to the pinnacle of Certified Legal Pricing Professional, the Legal Pricing Academy® can help you achieve your goals” Richard Burcher, Managing Director, Validatum®, Chairman, Virtual Pricing Director® & Legal Pricing Academy®