The old approach
■ Law firms set their own hourly fee rates for corporate work, sometimes ranging as high as $700 to $1,000 per hour for senior-level attorneys.
■ Law firms determine who and how many senior- and junior-level attorneys work on cases — and how many total hours are spent on cases.
■ Legal fees are presented to clients and are rarely questioned on their billings.
■ Back-office staffs work in-house or nearby to help with research, IT,and administrative needs.
■ Larger “white-shoe” law firms dominate corporate law business.
■ Lawyers, particularly partners, only rarely leave firms to take jobs
at other rival firms.
The new approach
■ Some law firms are now charging far less for corporate work, with fees for senior-level attorneys ranging from $400 to $600 per hour.
■ Fewer lower-level associate attorneys and researchers are used on cases to reduce overall costs, often at the insistence of corporate clients.
■ Fixed or capped fees are set for specific types of legal work, such as for filing patents or employment-law matters.
■ Corporate work is more often now won through competitive bidding, after corporations issue “requests for proposals.”
■ Large law firms are moving many
“back-office” positions — such as associate attorneys, paralegals, and IT personnel — to other lower-cost parts of the country. Some have even shifted some of those operations overseas, such as to India.
■ Small- and medium-size law firms are increasingly winning corporate law business from companies.