As Clients' Budgets Shrink, Firms Aim to Prove Their Worth

, The Legal Intelligencer

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Ryan said his firm strives to give clients predictability in their legal spend by being open to alternative billing arrangements such as cap fees, success fees and blended rates.

While Ryan said clients have not altogether abandoned the standard hourly billing model in favor of alternative fee arrangements, he noted that his firm is seeing many more of them than it had prior to the recession.

A willingness to be flexible with rate structures is about more than just giving a client a discount, however.

Ryan said one of the most important steps a firm can take to gain a client's trust is to demonstrate a commitment to building a long-lasting relationship, rather than trying to squeeze every last dollar out of whatever matter is currently in progress.

"If you watch the price, if you're creative, if you always look toward getting the next one and extending the relationship, you'll be successful," Ryan said.

According to Ryan, his firm tries to provide its clients with added services at low or no cost, an approach that has been a major selling point in its business proposals.

For example, according to Ryan, his firm often offers to provide clients with free in-house seminars or to make attorneys available to answer quick legal questions at no charge.

Ryan said clients shouldn't be reluctant to call an attorney to ask a simple question for fear of being charged for the time.

Similarly, Ryan said his firm has recently begun employing, to great success, what it refers to as "office neutrality."

Often, according to Ryan, the best attorney to handle a client's matter is in an Eckert Seamans office somewhere other than where the client or the matter is located.

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