Five Ways Attorneys Waste Money

Attorney Inefficiencies that Leave Clients with High Costs

When it comes to cost, attorneys don't have a reputation of coming cheap, but how do you determine if their charges are necessary or over the top? Are there specific areas where attorneys could improve the value of their services? Attorney Patrick Lamb of Valorem Law Group, a value-driven business litigation firm in Chicago, has five ways lawyers often waste client money.

1. Filing needless motions
To file a motion, it has to be written and filed. There is often also some lengthy brief prepared, and then at least one, and frequently two, court appearances. All too often, these motions serve no strategic or tactical purpose. They simply do no affect the outcome of the case.

2. Too many hands on deck
Why send two lawyers to court, or have two or more attend depositions? Why have younger lawyers draft something that is almost entirely redrafted by a more senior one? These work process inefficiencies can be easily avoided, but attorneys aren't trained to consider process efficiencies.

3. Every stone doesn't need to be picked up and examined
Cases turn on a very small number of facts and a very limited number of documents. There are always times where people wonder why something happened or didn't, but most of the time, it's just curiosity and not something that needs to be investigated. The desire to know all that is knowable about a case is just not a necessary indulgence in today's world.

4. Picking needless fights
Lawyers like to fight about process things--what order things will happen in, or where, or how many. Make a deal and move on. The fights are never worth the effort, and are always very costly.

5. Missing opportunities for resolution
Lawyers don't like to appear weak, and they feel that making an overture to settle makes them look that way. That thinking is old school. Smart attorneys settle cases early, before running up a lot of costs.

These are just a few areas to keep in mind when you consider how efficient your services are.

Law firms can also take additional steps to enable client understanding of, and satisfaction with, the value clients receive for attorney services.  For example, Valorem Law Group handles litigation using alternative fee arrangements, which creates budget certainty for its clients while utilizing a number of innovative practices to generate results, not hours. Taking this outlook one step further, Valorem includes a "value adjustment line" on every invoice; allowing clients to mark the bill up or down so it reflects the value the client received. This aligns the firm's best interests with those of the client.

There are many ways that law firms can improve on their delivery of value to clients, whether it be in the form of substantive decisions, process improvements, involvement of the client in determining the value of the services performed, or some other means. Attorneys should always be aware of, and communicate to the client, what makes economic sense for the specific case and the client.