The Zero Scope Challenge

Jeff Brandt shared a great video in a recent Pinhawk newsletter. The video was produced by Riverview Law, an innovative provider of legal services.

The video, which I thoroughly enjoyed, is a conversation between lawyer and client about a fixed fee. As Riverview Law is based in the UK, so is the scenario. The client asks for a fixed fee about 20 times, meanwhile the lawyer does his best to redefine fixed fee as ‘hourly.’

In many respects the video represents reality … for both sides.

My thoughts:

Law Firm Side

The law firm guy struggles to grasp doing it differently. Any fixed fee in his mind will come from an accounting of the billable hour. When it appears he may be succumbing to the fixed fee concept, he lays out a list of incomprehensible caveats as some lengthy and easy to invoke list of out-of-scope assumptions. When the client doesn't buy that, he reverts to his known quantity - hours.

Client Side

The in-house lawyer gets points for sticking to her guns. The video is obviously meant to show her in a reasonable light, as opposed to the blundering law firm guy. However, what is unspoken by her, and is definitely part of the challenge, is that she gives no scope or parameters when requesting her fixed fee. Somehow her outside counsel should be able to produce a fixed fee on a complex matter with Zero Scope.

I recommend you watch the video. It’s a great lesson in how not to have the conversation – for both sides.

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Darlingtons lease advice said...

Great post, a difficult issue as you say - in some cases lawyers need to be more creative, flexible and open. In other cases, clients need to understand the lawyer's difficulty in scoping the extent of works where there are unforseeable factors and complications outside the lawyers control. Ultimately, the ball is in the lawyers court, to communicate the issues and find a solution or not get or retain a client.


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