Posted by: johnocunningham | May 21, 2018

How Business Clients See “Value”

When I talk to law firms about the importance of providing “value” to clients, some lawyers object to the concept of being a “value” provider because they think it means being a “discounter.”

Then, I explain to them that this concept of “value” is very different from the business client’s concept of value, as the client often sees the greatest value in the most experienced lawyer who charges the highest hourly rate. Why? Because the client says that lawyer can answer a legal question instantly without need of research, offering the added value of practical insights and suggestions born of actual experience.

This is why many clients have started refusing to pay for first year associate time – because they see zero value in those lawyers, even if they are billed out at the cheapest rates. Some clients feel that first year associates are essentially interning on their dime and want the firm to absorb that time as a cost of doing business.

The concept of value – for the client – is really about what you are getting for the money. It is NOT about “getting a discount,” though some people may see that as one form of value.

The fact is that “value” comes in many forms, but it is the one ingredient that more and more business clients say they are looking to find. It is so important to in-house counsel that the ACC (Association of Corporate Counsel) initiated a “value challenge” several years ago, and the organization now gives annual awards for recognition of special value provided to clients.

If you want to figure out what corporate clients mean when they talk about “value,” you might do well to review the 2018 ACC profiles of “value champions.”


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