Honigman lawyers, Carl W. Herstein and Joseph R. Sgroi, reveal best practices in sections of the American Bar Association’s new publication The Power of Legal Project Management. Excerpts from the section are available here.
Honigman understands value. Our clients have always expected us to provide excellent value for the cost, which includes:
- Outstanding Quality—work that is well crafted, and reflects knowledge, experience and creativity.
- Proportionality—understanding your business objectives, with the fees and costs proportionate to your goals.
- Efficient Resource Allocation—the right personnel at every cost level are matched to the work.
- Service and Communication—the attention and information you want, provided in a timely manner.
- A Commitment to Help—an understanding of your industry, your business, your needs and a passion for helping achieve your business goals.
- Price—the cost is fair and consistent with what you need, what you agreed to pay for and what you get.
- Predictability—what is delivered is consistent with what was agreed to, with changes due to changed circumstances communicated in a timely and thoughtful manner.
- Something Added—we strive to deliver above and beyond what you ordinarily expect, be it an unexpected solution or savings, making connections, or providing new perspectives.
We have made a strategic commitment to ensure that we deliver value to our clients on a consistent basis. We know that our clients are constantly working to improve their products and businesses and that they are doing what is needed to make the cost of what they do decrease rather than increase. We are doing the same. Here's how:
- We created the positions of Chief Value Partner and Associate Chief Value Partner to focus, measure and monitor our efforts firm wide.
- We have asked our Value Partners to lead our Value Initiatives, which include:
- An extensive Legal Project Management training program involving both in-house training and training with a leading consultant, with our ongoing "sustained effort," which includes monthly meetings among lawyers and staff to share ideas, best practices, and what works and what doesn't.
- Firmwide efforts at process improvement, that will continue on an ongoing basis.
- Pricing based on our belief that clients want fee alternatives as well as alternative fees.
Pricing for Value is of great importance to us and our clients. In our view, pricing is not just about rates or even pricing methods. It is about meeting goals. We see our job as providing you with the best net result, looking at all factors including legal fees, not on being the least expensive. We charge Midwestern rates, not those of money-center firms, something many of our substantial number of national and international clients find attractive as a part (but only a part) of our value proposition.
We help clients clarify their goals and objectives in light of the relevant legal issues and the costs that they are prepared to incur. After that process is complete, it is possible to make the best choices in terms of the legal services that are needed and the fee alternatives for obtaining those services. Those alternatives could include bundled or unbundled services, partnering, co-counsel arrangements or a traditional approach. A decision about hourly fees or alternative fees is the final step in the process.
We have had an extensive alternative fee practice for many decades. In some areas, like real estate tax appeals, we prefer to work on an alternative fee basis. We have employed all forms of alternative fees, including fixed fees and hybrid fees (e.g. partially fixed, partially hourly, and partially hourly partly contingent). We are also open to blended rates.
Our goal is to have a lean team staffing your matter where you have experienced lawyers doing the work that they are best equipped to do, with less experienced lawyers and non-lawyer timekeepers doing work for which they are well suited.
Communication is Key
Our view is that there is not one right answer with respect to fee arrangements. Different client goals and needs, different facts and circumstances, and different risk tolerances result in different choices that are right for different clients. We find that the better our communication with clients, the better we know them and they know us, and the more time we can spend upfront in reaching a clear understanding about what makes sense for both parties, the better the satisfaction regardless of the fee arrangement chosen. What this means for you is that we want to address your goals and meet your needs, and that includes talking in an open and straightforward way about the cost of your legal work.
We look forward to working on a value proposition that is right for you.