Big firms expect to raise rates slightly, but …

An interesting report was recently released by the Altman Weil consulting firm. It surveyed nearly 300 U.S. law firms and found that those firms intend to raise their 2010 rates by an average of more than 3 percent.

“Although these results may seem to contradict some expectations for rate freezes in 2010, this is a relatively conservative rate increase by law firms that are struggling to balance their own business perspective with the needs of their clients.” said Altman Weil principal Tom Clay.  “Most firms are making careful, considered increases – often client by client or lawyer by lawyer – unlike prior years when across the board increases were typical. … Law firms know that this is a buyers market.” 

However, when the managing partners of some of Michigan’s largest law firms were asked about what measures they would be taking in 2010 in terms of raising rates,  none would respond on record.

It’s understandable why they kept mum. No one wants to alert the competition as to what course of action is being taken financially by a firm of 100 or more attorneys. It could lead to something akin to the Wal-Mart v. Amazon price wars of last holiday season — only on a more crucial scale.

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Litigation funding company launches attorney referral service

Southfield-based Lawsuit Financial Corp. has launched an attorney referral service in all 50 states, according to a press release from the firm posted on dBusinessNews.

The company promises would-be plaintiffs up to three attorney recommendations within 24 hours of an inquiry.

Keeping clients happy: being a great lawyer is not enough

“Lousy service is the number one reason clients fire law firms, and there are dozens of surveys and reports concluding that most lawyers don’t do a very good job in this area,” says John Remsen, Jr., one of the nation’s top legal marketing experts.

It’s not enough to be the great lawyer that you are, you need to wow your clients with top-notch service, Remsen explains in the June 2008 issue of the Remsen Report.

Here are a few of Remsen’s common-sense reminders, gleaned from a panel discussion with three general counsels:

Timely response to client inquiries – The use of cell phones, blackberries and the internet has raised client expectations about how soon you’ll respond to them. A return phone call within 24 hours used to be acceptable. Now, four hours is more like it.

Follow through on commitments – Meet your deadlines. Deliver early, if possible. And if you’re going to miss a deadline, it’s better to blow the whistle on yourself rather than have the client come looking for you.

Prevent surprises – Lousy news from the court? Higher than average invoice? No one likes a bad surprise, so blunt the impact with some prompt, up-front communication.

Get on the good side of your client’s staff – Kindness, courtesy and respect are the watchwords when dealing with a client’s support staff. They wield considerable influence, and you never know when or where your paths may cross next.

There’s more good stuff from Remsen here.