Some issues are critical to your business and you are willing to spend whatever it takes to prevail on that issue. However, many of the day to day items which your legal counsel can assist you with do not rise to a “bet the company” status. In those instances, it is important to get the most value (not necessarily the lowest cost) out of the relationship with your outside counsel. Here are four ways to help manage your legal costs.
Discuss Expectations Upfront
One of the best ways to avoid a problem is to discuss the matter before it becomes a problem. When engaging with counsel, it is important to communicate clearly on any given matter what is most important to you as the client. Over time, your lawyer should get a sense of your expectations, but they won’t know them at the beginning, so it is important to communicate what you want. Some key items to consider addressing:
What is the overall timeline and internal time pressures?
What is the importance of the matter to the overall business?
Have you, the client, ever done a similar project/contract/acquisition in the past?
What level of review is required? Is a high-level review where only major issues are identified and addressed sufficient or is a more granular, “in the weeds” level of review necessary?
What is the desired work product? Will you need a formal memo prepared for presentation to third parties or is an update email/call sufficient?
It is important to note that there are not right or wrong answers to any of the foregoing, but they do come with trade-offs when it comes to overall costs. Law firms still, by and large, operate on a billable hour model. So, the more time intensive the project, the higher the ultimate bill.
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