Category Archives: Legal Fees

An alternative take on “Tesco Law”

While not a new phrase for someone like me to bandy around, I wonder what you think Clementi meant by it?

Well, some suggest he meant the work of existing law firms being commoditised and sold off the shelf at Tesco, as Tesco do with banking, insurance and mobile phone services.

But what if he simply meant no change to the service itself, but a lot of change to the availability of the service?

Time-wise, Tesco open from early till late, certainly 7 days a week. Some stores open 24 hours at certain times of the year. When I worked for two large, successful, entrepreneurial, corporate companies, as Head of Finance, I was on the job from early till late, 7 days a week and on certain deals nearly 24 hours at a stretch. Now, with my corporate days behind me, my life revolves around clients during usual business hours and around usual pre-school and post-school hours with my family. In both situations, f I were looking for legal advice, 9pm in the evening would be ideal.

And with regard to location, in most conurbations in the UK, you are probably never more than 15 to 20 minutes away from a Tesco store, many of which have parking and a bus service.

So maybe Clementi was not talking about the devaluing of legal advice into some low-level commodity, but simply about making the existing provision available at a time and place to suit the customer. And even if he wasn’t, why not think about it?!


Liam Wall
Founder
BigWig Legal Network
www.bigwignetwork.co.uk

What is BigWig Legal Network?
The deregulation of UK legal structures will have a huge impact on how Law is practised and new legal services are offered. BigWig Legal Network is the UK’s first membership development organisation for fee earners in legal practices, priced for membership affordability, which will offer what legal professionals desire most of all: Accurate, dependable new insights and techniques for developing the legal services of the future.

Find out more at our monthly meetings.

The DEA: good for lawyers, bad for everyone else?

Did you know that the Digital Economy Act 2010 was enacted last month? If so, do you know how it affects you? The title makes it sound like a very dry topic, but in fact anyone who lives in the UK should be interested because it affects any UK creator, distributor or consumer of content on the web. On Wednesday 1st June, John Stobart of Harvey Ingram LLP gave an overview of the Act in an excellent presentation, “Legal Aspects of Online Business and the Digital Economy Act 2010”. The talk was hosted by Amplified Leicester at the Phoenix Square Digital Media Centre, Leicester.

Following the noble aims of the Digital Britain report, which mapped our existing use of the Internet as well as ways of enabling more Britons to access online content, it has of course become necessary to legislate how we do this. Most people are aware of the struggle of the film, music and publishing industries to maintain profitability when so much content is available for free or at very low cost on the web. It seems that fewer people are also aware that much of what is available is offered without the permission or sanction of the copyright owners. The ease and speed with which one can download content leads people to think that it must always be okay to do so.

But the scary thing is that even those who scrupulously avoid piracy may fall foul of the new Act. It could affect you negatively, even if you personally have not done anything illegal. This is because of draconian provisions requiring ISPs (Internet Service Providers) to write threatening letters to the owners of connections being used for illegal downloading, to provide to copyright holders the contact details of those people, and ultimately to limit bandwidth or cut internet connection completely if the copyright infringement is proven to have occurred. Continue reading

“Don’t you want me, baby?”

Seeking a product used by most law firms, I had the pleasure of putting out to tender a significant contract worth around £150k per annum.

The existing supplier was a well-known company in the market and the point of contact was highly credible, trustworthy and pleasant. In fact, he was a thoroughly decent bloke. One of the challenging suppliers was recommended by a friend, but was otherwise completely unknown to me.

The existing supplier knew they were in a competitive situation and telephoned several times to take stock of the situation and to ensure they put the best tender forward that they could. Indeed, the resulting tender was more competitive than the year before: they provided additional features and this justified the tender process if nothing else did.

The challenging supplier came to see me and my colleagues three times. They were well-prepared with colourful charts and other sales tools, and also mentioned other products they provided. Their enhanced product offered slightly better value than that of the existing supplier. They were very attentive and could not do enough for us.

The existing supplier was obviously disappointed, but accepted the inevitable when the challenging supplier won the contract. Since that sale, the new supplier has maintained the initial contact through in-person visits and invitations to evening talks and other events, always providing valuable insights and clear, attractive supporting material.

Clients want to feel their professional advisers are part of the team. Team working is about clear regular communication. The original supplier above did a good job, but had been so busy doing the job that they lost ground to a personal visit from a rival.

It is a tight legal market at the moment with insufficient work for most, but how many have made a point of visiting existing clients in between matters just to keep the relationship and communication going?

The last thing you need right now is your existing clients wondering if you want them!

* The title of this post refers to The Human League’s single from their third album Dare (1981)

Liam Wall
Founder
BigWig Legal Network

www.bigwignetwork.co.uk

What is BigWig Legal Network?
The deregulation of UK legal structures will have a huge impact on how Law is practised and new legal services are offered. BigWig Legal Network is the UK’s first membership development organisation for fee earners in legal practices, priced for membership affordability, which will offer what legal professionals desire most of all: Accurate, dependable new insights and techniques for developing the legal services of the future.

Find out more at our Last Wednesday meetings.

Corporate Clients want more for less. Or do they?

A few years ago, I observed the procurement process a major law firm went through in the hope of being appointed to a bank’s legal panel. Apart from the online fee process, the bank also wanted to know what other services were on offer. They wanted access to partners and fee earners for free to make internal seminar presentations, as well as access to the firm’s library and research capabilities. Also, online billing and a line-by-line review of what they had been charged.

At the time the feeling was simply that the bank wanted to have their cake and eat it too. Banking was highly profitable at the time and it may have been just that. But many other corporates use the online process carefully to set legal fees and to extract the most benefit.

Times are changing for the legal profession.  Rather than fight your clients who seem to want more for less, why not consider what is happening and embrace the opportunity to work with them to increase the productivity on their files and share the additional profit?

Why? Continue reading

Jack of All Trades

My mobile is wonderful!

It is a phone, an MP3 player, a voice recorder, a calendar, a video player and recorder, a web browser, a camera, etc, etc. I have it on contract, but, if purchased over the counter, it costs about £400. Great value as I no longer need an MP3 player, a camcorder, a desktop web browser……..really?

In truth, I have an MP3 player and a camcorder and a desktop computer, as well as the mobile phone. The computer cost three times the price of the phone. The camcorder was a similar price and the camera cost about half as much as the phone. I even have a land-line at home which I pay for monthly.

Why? Well, think about it. For really good, clear pictures of your holiday, are you going to trust your mobile phone or will you buy a camera that is a specialist device? If you were going to leave your children with someone at home all day, would you want a qualified nanny or someone who was “probably OK”?

I have these extra, more expensive gadgets as well as the ubiquitous mobile phone because I am willing to pay for a level of experience (and service) that is higher than any old Tom Dick or Petra can offer, i.e. if I can see added value in the particular product or service.

It is the same with solicitors. Some clients may be happy with an adequate legal adviser. Will they pay top dollar for adequate? No. They will pay top dollar if they believe their problem is serious and needs resolution urgently by an expert in that field. Continue reading

Justifying your Fee

Does your potential client know why you are worth what you charge?

This may sound ridiculous, but do you know what you spend most of your working days doing? At one level, you might feel that this question grossly insults your intellect and your memory as well as your professionalism. So why do I ask?

Well, the obvious is not what I mean. For someone to want to buy your services, they need to know and understand what you do. I have had potential and actual clients like the look of me and then ask me to do things of which I have no experience at all, simply because I matched some preconceived notion they had of an accountant.

Let us assume you meet the Managing Director of a medium-sized corporate. You are a litigator. He says, “What do you do?” It is your big opportunity to open the door to billing heaven. You draw in a breath and say, “I’m a litigator”, or perhaps, to more enlightened souls, that you work in dispute resolution. The MD looks interested and then moves on to the weather. No problem, you think. If the MD ever needs a litigator, I’ll get a call. The MD will know I am the best litigator in town.

In fact the MD may be wondering what a litigator does that is relevant to his business, or whether appointing a litigator may signal that his business skills have failed. Or, whether his existing law firm already has a litigator, as all solicitors do the same thing kinda? Continue reading