How do you validate your per hour rates?"

When I seek advice from with legal clients about their proposals, separating themselves is constantly the hardest part for them. Yeah, they have it, but so do all the other big firms that they're contending against. How do you get the client to pick you?

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To the proposition writer, this makes perfect sense. After all, who is the client to state what is and isn't prestigious? It's a matter of opinion.

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There are companies that have actually become acknowledged as distinguished through years of unparalleled results .

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Think of that, however. Is your unverifiable, untestable opinion a solid structure on which to validate per hour rates in a proposition .

4 Factors Eminence Doesn't Validate Your Rates: Your Law practice Proposal Needs Better Differentiators

There you are, in your office, the night before your proposal is due, cursor blinking on your screen. And you're looking at concerns 1 and 2 of the Request for Proposal. When I seek advice from with legal clients about their proposals, separating themselves is constantly the hardest part for them. Yeah, they have it, but so do all the other big firms that they're contending against. How do you get the client to pick you?

Without a structured procedure, the majority of customers merely give up. You point out the exact same things everyone else is citing, hope for the very best and then dabble on a little of that wonderful Biglaw cure-all: eminence.

Ah, yes. Exactly what is status going for these days on the area market? Can you purchase a bucketful?

Does it work this way? Not at all. However every RFP that gets sent returns a lot of propositions continuing about the history of the firm and how distinguished it is. To the proposition writer, this makes perfect sense. After all, who is the client to state what is and isn't prestigious? It's a matter of opinion. Think of that, however. Is your unverifiable, untestable opinion a solid structure on which to validate per hour rates in a proposition to the really individual who you want to pay them? And is it something you even want to claim? To me, there are six very good reasons that you should eliminate this word from your legal propositions.

Can't We Just Slap Some Prestige On It?

A proposal is a sales document. So what you state in it does affect the viewpoints that the reader has of your firm. And a proposition can increase the self-respect of an otherwise excellent firm in the eyes of the client. In the end, though, for a proposal to call true at all, it requires to show the real character of your law firm. Now, a law firm can certainly enhance their prestige if they're eager to pay the rate to do so.

There are companies that have actually become acknowledged as distinguished through years of unparalleled results, the highest standards and exceptional customer support. And there are firms that have entered the club in a much shorter quantity of time, spending what it took with tables at charity dinners and soirees and Monets and other types of marketing that the legal world considers acceptable. A century on one hand and 10 or twenty on the other.

Well, heck, if those men can consider themselves prominent, why can't we? We can use the same heavy paper in our Christmas cards and serve the same elegant wine at celebrations for customers. The issue, however, is that status is a specific option. And if you have not been making that option all along, you can't validate your rates by citing it now.

You Really Aren't Prestigious.

Costly, yes. Prestigious, no.

The sorts of clients who are utilizing RFPs are not silly. They know what prestige is.

Some attorneys argue that they can claim to be prestigious by virtue of their rates. This gets it all in reverse, of course. However, much more critically, these sorts have to recognize that they actually aren't really ready to pay the rate for prestige. Prestige isn't determined by how lots of partners you have who claim to bill $1,000 an hour. It's discovered in a culture of adherence to the highest standards, even when no one is looking. It's guaranteeing that even your newest associates and paralegals understand that there is no such thing as regular.

The price of status is the way the receptionist responds to the phone, the method even the UPS man is welcomed in the lobby. It's the method a young litigator interacts with opposing counsel at the courthouse.

In other words, the price of eminence is doing everything it requires to make eminence. Hourly rates are not part of that formula.

Your Clients Don't Want Prestige.

Still, some lawyers wish to run status up the flagpole and waive it around for customers to justify their rates. Is that even an excellent choice? If you opt to present yourself in your propositions as respected, does that mesh with the clients you're attempting to win? Does it harmonize with their businesses, values, objectives, pastimes? Not likely. When I ask training individuals to name some respected business, the very same one constantly come up first. Try it yourself. Who do you think of?

The company most people mention is Rolls Royce.

Most individuals, even wealthy people, do not have a Rolls Royce. Why not? Wouldn't they like one? Sure. They have numerous, lots of things they desire to achieve prior to they get around to purchasing a Rolls Royce. They’d rather have their kids go to the best possible schools. They 'd rather have a beach house as a place the family can go have fun together. They 'd rather splurge on tickets to take their buddy to the Super Bowl. However a Rolls Royce? They're happy with their Lexus or BMW or other high-end vehicle. The extra that a Rolls Royce supplies - status, basically - just aren't that valuable to most people.

And that's with their own money. If they hardly ever get a Rolls Royce on their own, you can be sure that they definitely do not purchase Rolls Royce’s for their company. Does Home Depot use Rolls Royce as a company automobile? Does Staples?

So why would you wish to sell yourself as the Rolls Royce of law practice when you answer an RFP? But a Google look for "distinguished law office" shows up over two million hits. Clearly, companies are doing simply that. If your customers are pickup truck people, you will not wow them with a Rolls Royce. Does a customer desire to pay for stupid stuff through your sky high rates? He'll pay for quality, results, experience and a lot of other things; however prestige isn't one of them.

Prestige Isn't All It's Cracked Up to Be.

I remember appearing prior to a judge on a pro bono matter I was handling as a young partner when I was at Simpson Thacher, usually considered among the most prominent firms on the planet. I had actually been before her plenty of times in the past. This certain time, the things she stated made it clear she had no concept we were representing our customer pro bono. Now, our customer was a sweet, little old woman who had actually been forced out of her house by unscrupulous predatory lending. And here she was represented by Simpson Thacher, behemoth international law practice, go-to counsel for investment banks and brokerages and insurance companies. It was all so evident. (Not to discuss it was composed on the front of all our pleadings; however judges checking out documents are another topic totally.).

At that moment, it became incredibly clear that she had actually never become aware of us in the past. To me, this was eye opening. Green as I was, I simply assumed that judges originated from elite schools and students at elite schools understood about elite companies. Nope. The firm name meant squat to her. If it indicated squat to her, did it have any value to customers? Perhaps at the appellate court level. Perhaps in federal courts more than state. But not almost as much as a lot of Biglaw attorneys wish it did. Which is for a firm that’s made it through at the top of the New York legal neighborhood for a hundred years? Who are those other two million Google hits talking about?

Finding Other Ways to Justify Price

This is the location in which you can truthfully and proudly explain the character and value of your firm. The critical task in your proposition is to validate your rates by representing your firm well, not by misrepresenting it.

Responsiveness

Clear communication

Quality assurance

Task management skills

Functional performance

Speed

Alternative charge structures

Experience with their certain market

Experience with that particular consumer type

Competence

Added value

Obviously, you need to be able to really back these up when the customer asks for details. If you can't say something like, "Yes, all our lawyers and paralegals go through three hours of training in job management, an hour of training in management, two hours of training in quality assurance, and 2 hours of training in clear customer communication," then you can't list them in your proposal as aspects that justify your costs.

As big customers are moving towards using RFPs, they're also becoming much more willing to take chances on smaller companies who are ready and able to provide value in other ways. And as more law companies wake up to the value of a convincing proposition, fewer competitors will be left playing the me-too game with your firm. Prestige has its usages; however few firms are had to satisfy the periodic Sultan or Blue Blood. It's time for you to discover a much better method to sell your legal services.

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Well, heck, if those men can consider themselves prominent, why can't we? We can use the same heavy paper in our Christmas cards and serve the same elegant wine at celebrations for customers.

The issue, however, is that status is a specific option. And if you have not been making that option all along, you can't validate your rates by citing it now.

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