Old approach vs. new approach for law firms

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.

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 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.