Wednesday AM November 26th, 2008

The sagging economy is causing some law firms to do the once unthinkable: compete on price. Ed Mayberry reports.

image of office settingMore corporations are attempting to better-manage legal costs over the past couple of years, seeking so-called “value propositions” from their outside counsel. That means larger law firms are having to adapt to compete with middle-market law firms. Wayne Risoli is with the Houston office of Chamberlain Hrdlica.

“I think you’re seeing that the largest firms are having to really figure ways to get their costs down in order to get their rates in a position where they can still attract companies’ work that have restricted budgets.”

Firms are going to have to come to grips with ever-increasing rates. Risoli says law firms can help cut legal costs for corporations by becoming more efficient.

“And by that I mean when you have a matter come in the door, you have just the number of people necessary to handle that matter. But I think you’re going to see law firms really try to figure out how to become more efficient. I think the days of the ever-escalating billing rates are at an end. This dialogue is going to be to the advantage of companies when they talk with their outside counsel about ongoing work.”

Risoli says existing law firms will have to fit within smaller budgets that companies have designated for legal work.

Ed Mayberry, KUHF Houston Public Radio News.

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