Many of my clients, friends, and family wonder why attorneys at large law firms charge rates substantially higher than attorneys who practice on their own. To some extent, legal fees are similar to medical costs--we all hate the thought of them, until we need them ourselves, and then we want only the best that money can buy.

I worked at a large firm in Salt Lake City for 3 years, where I learned how inefficient large firms are. I realized that innovation can dramatically reduce  legal costs while better protecting clients against legal risks. Here are some of the questions that my clients have when I tell them this:

1. How can I be sure that the quality my attorney's work is good enough?

The challenge here is that clients are hiring their attorney to advise them and to see risks that the client wouldn't have seen without the assistance of their attorney. However, there is a solution to this challenge: my goal for every client that I help is for them to be better educated about legal risks and their business implications at the end of every matter, than they were at the beginning.

in other words, the way to know that your attorney is adequately advising you of legal risks and protecting against them, is that he should be explaining them completely, describing the business implications of those risks, and then giving you the opportunity to make an informed decision based on that information. If you don't feel like your interaction with an attorney is an educational experience, in which you increasingly become capable of recognizing and responding to business-related legal risks, you might consider looking for a new attorney.

2. How can I verify an attorney is good before I engage him on the first project?

Law firms hire attorneys that have solid legal resumes. Because of the constraints on their time, however, they often use law school GPA and law school credentials as the major filter for qualified candidates. You can do the same thing. Ask your attorney for his resume, and you'll know whether you are at least dealing with an attorney that could qualify to work at any large firm, even if he prefers to avoid the inefficiencies and political atmosphere that they often present.

However, even better than GPA to measure a lawyers skill and quality, are reviews of past clients. Ask your attorney to send you some reviews of clients that the attorney has assisted. Search for your attorney on sites like Avvo and Lawyer.com to see how your attorney is rated and what clients have said.

3. What are the pros and cons of a small firm or solo attorney?

Working with an attorney at a small firm, or who is a solo practitioner, ensures that you will be a priority to that attorney. Often, large firm attorneys deal with so many clients that you may not hear from your attorney for months as you wait for your matter to be resolved. Even if you are urgently in need of the funds or a resolution, you are just another case for the large firm attorney.

Some small firm or solo attorneys may not have the resources to assist with a variety of business and legal needs. However, at Expert Business Law, we use software integration and virtual assistants to streamline your legal project so that we can give you the personal assistance you deserve, while collaborating with numerous partners to provide top quality work.

If you have any questions, please contact us.

Lessons on Efficiency from Big Law

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