Value Pricing Q & A: What about complex litigation matters?

Q: It would assist if a worked example of “value costing” on a complex litigation matter could be addressed: e.g acting for a defendant with multiple parties and, no real idea up front what is going to be involved in the matter (hearing could run for 3 days or 20, 50 documents in discovery or thousands). A: I am not suggesting you price a piece of complex litigation from go to whoa. We do not have a crystal ball and clients should not expect us to have one. Clients do however usually expect that their lawyer knows something about what you are doing, that you have experienced something like this before (otherwise why wouldn’t they go to someone else?) and that you could provide them with some scenarios about what may or may not happen in the future.

Only price what you know and that means you can only price the work when you have properly scoped it. You then may have to re-scope and re-price by phases, stages or milestones as more information becomes available. A change in scope does not mean however you spent an extra 6 minutes, or 1 hour or even one day on something that you did not ‘allow’ for in your initial pricing.

The key to this is good project management and communicating with your client before you reach the next phase-not during or after the phase.

My friend, fellow Verasage Institute colleague and founding partner of Boston based law firm Exemplar(www.exemplarcompanies.com ) which does not and never has either recorded time or priced their services by time uses a series of concentric circles to explain how he scopes and prices more complex litigation. An article posted on Verasage community blog best explains how these can be used for scoping: