On January 1, 2008, Valorem Law Group, LLC will officially open its doors.  

Valorem (latin for value) represents the culmination of a great deal of thinking about how to respond to the needs of in-house counsel with litigation needs.  Valorem will be a litigation/problem-solving firm.  The people who are part of the initial venture are all highly accomplished trial lawyers.  But unlike some who get involved just to try a case, our goal is to use our experience to conduct discovery more efficiently and to leverage our comfort in the courtroom into better settlements for our clients.  Clients view trials, even ones that are won, with trepidation because of the cost and uncertainty.  We want to respond to that concern.  To the extent clients want to have an hourly-based fee arrangement, we’ll do so.  Our hourly rates are all going down from where they’ve been, and, shamelessly copying my friend Ralph Palumbo of Summit Law Group, each invoice will have a value adjustment line for clients to change the amounts due on a bill to make sure they believe they are getting fair value.  But our real goal is to move from hourly work to alternative fee work, whether contingency or fixed fee or some combination.  Plus each invoice will have that value adjustment line.  We are, after all, about value.

We have tried to rethink every part of the law firm experience.  For example, we are striving to drive individual ego out.  Again borrowing from Ralph, everyone will have the same size office–small.  Money will be spent on technology and collaborative spaces, not luxurious corner offices.  No one has their name on the door.  And no one person will own a client–compensation is not based on "my billings from my clients."  It will, instead, be based on how "we" do and, if we reach our objectives, how "we" do will be based on how our clients do.  The goal of all of this is to drive people into collaborative work spaces where we spend time brainstorming about ways to handle cases better, get better settlements, save our clients money, and so forth.  Rather than rely on a silo–the partner and his or her team–that clients typically hire, the fee arrangements should provide us the incentive to work together and have highly skilled trial lawyers thinking about how to redesign the box.

We are doing away with the traditional concept of "associates on a partnership track."  We don’t want to worry about paying new, inexperienced associates $160,000, plus benefits, and then trying to earn a profit from their labor while at the same time making clients pay for their training.  We will be aggressive consumers of contract legal services, using the lower hourly rates charged by those capable lawyers to either charge lower hourly rates or lower the overall cost of our service.  Likewise, we will make extensive use of technology, from mind-mapping software to financial control software that will allow real-time monitoring of costs.

Valorem’s goal is nothing short of revolutionizing the client-lawyer experience.  The new year promises to be very exciting for us!

And with the rise of Valorem, I am back in the blogosphere, ramped up and ready to go!