Client Value Research

Pricing White Paper

Client Value and Law Firm Profitability

In-depth interviews with leaders
of 50 of the largest law firms in the US

by Jim Hassett, Ph.D.

6 x 9 paperback, 218 pages

Published October 2014

$95 per copy; volume discounts on orders of 2 or more copies. Paperback and Kindle editions are also available at

If you decide to return the book within 30 days, we will send you a full refund, no questions asked.

For this study of Client Value and Law Firm Profitability, LegalBizDev founder Jim Hassett interviewed senior decision makers from 50 AmLaw 200 firms. The primary goal of the research is to help law firms adapt to a rapidly changing marketplace by providing insights into what has worked at other firms, and what hasn’t.

Table of Contents

Foreword by Tom Clay, Altman Weil
Executive summary
Chapter 1: Research goals and approach
Chapter 2: How clients define value
Client pressures to increase value
When is “value” just a code word for a lower price?
Different meanings for different clients
The implication for law firms
Chapter 3: Profitability
Pressures on profitability
Six challenges in defining law firm profitability
Four challenges in managing law firm profitability
Chapter 4: Legal project management
Why is LPM so important?
Eight key issues in LPM
Knowledge management
Chapter 5: Other tactics to increase value and profitability
New staff positions in pricing, value, and LPM
Contract attorneys and outsourcing
Alternative fee arrangements
Timekeeping and routine operations
Client satisfaction interviews
Chapter 6: What clients should do
Difficult conversations firms for clients and for firms
Top three things clients should do to increase value
Four more things clients should consider
When is value more than just the lowest price?
Clients and firms: Adversaries or partners?
Chapter 7 – What law firms should do
Why change is urgent
Lessons from other businesses
How quickly are lawyers changing?
Three critical areas
Three general recommendations
The future

This is the only research on the topic which is based on confidential in-depth interviews with chairs, managing partners, senior partners, and firm executives such as CEOs, COOs and CFOs.  The name of every individual who participated in the research is confidential, and all quotes are anonymous. This approach has enabled senior decision makers to speak frankly and openly about what they really think.

The LegalBizDev Survey of Alternate Fees successfully used this same interview approach a few years ago.  Given the sensitivity of discussing profitability, even with a guarantee of anonymity it took significant time and effort to identify 50 firms willing to participate. As one long-time LegalBizDev contact put it when we asked for help finding the best person to interview: “Our firm never talks about revenue, profitability or the like… If I bring this up with anyone, they will think I have lost my mind.”

Ultimately, 42% of the interviews were completed with chairs and managing partners, and the remainder with senior partners and executives at these 50 firms:

Adams and Reese
Akin Gump
Allen Matkins
Archer & Greiner
Armstrong Teasdale
Baker & McKenzie
Baker Donelson
Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck
Bryan Cave
Crowell & Moring
Dickstein Shapiro
DLA Piper
Drinker Biddle
Duane Morris
Foley & Lardner
Goodwin Procter
Greenberg Traurig
Haynes and Boone
Jackson Lewis
Jackson Walker
K&L Gates

King & Spalding
Loeb & Loeb
Mayer Brown
McDermott Will
Miller Canfield
Mintz Levin
Morgan Lewis
Munger Tolles
Nixon Peabody
Ogletree Deakins
Patton Boggs
Pepper Hamilton
Perkins Coie
Polsinelli Shughart
Quarles & Brady
Reed Smith
Saul Ewing
Schiff Hardin
Seyfarth Shaw
Sheppard Mullin
Thompson Coburn
Williams Mullen

Many of these firms are widely recognized as leaders in the transition to the “new normal,” but some have kept a lower profile.

The LegalBizDev Research Advisory Board consists of 16 thought leaders in the field who reviewed the design of the study and who will also preview draft reports to help assure that the research maximizes its value to the legal profession. Its members are:

  • Toby Brown, Director of Strategic Pricing and Analytics, Akin Gump
  • Tom Clay, Principal, Altman Weil
  • Vince Cordo, Global Director of Client Value, Reed Smith
  • Lisa Damon, Managing Partner, Seyfarth Shaw
  • Stuart Dodds, Director of Global Pricing and Legal Project Management, Baker & McKenzie
  • John P. Ferko, Director of Strategic Pricing and Practice Management, Miles & Stockbridge
  • Delilah Flaum, Partner in Charge of Knowledge Management and Legal Project Management, Winston & Strawn
  • Sam Goldblatt, Partner, Nixon Peabody
  • Jim Kalyvas, Partner, Foley & Lardner
  • Steven Manton, Strategic Pricing Leader, Debevoise & Plimpton
  • Kelly Milius, AFA Professional Support Lawyer, Perkins Coie
  • Richard Rosenblatt, Operations Partner – Labor & Employment Practice Group, Morgan Lewis
  • Michael Roster, Co-Chair of ACC Value Challenge Steering Committee and former Managing Partner, L.A. office, Morrison & Foerster
  • Amar Sarwal, Vice President and Chief Legal Strategist, Association of Corporate Counsel
  • Peter Secor, Director of Strategic Pricing and Project Management, Pepper Hamilton
  • Donald R. Ware, Partner, Foley Hoag