Many firms have created a job for “pricing.” The reason for doing so is that firms don’t have much experience with non-hourly billing, but clients are demanding non-hourly fee arrangements. Since the firms want to make the same or more money on such engagements, they deploy a resource to help make sure the price offered to clients on any matter is profitable. With due respect to these firms, I think they have missed the boat.
Pricing is a tool–one of several–that should be deployed to deepen and strengthen the relationship between lawyer and client. It is not, of itself, the end. Designating someone to be in charge of pricing is like putting a coach in charge of the 3rd quarter, not the entire game.
I know the argument will be that the relationship partner is “the coach” and the director of pricing is a resource for the coach. Perhaps that is why the goal of so many firms when creating a non-hourly fee is to equal or exceed what the firm would make if it billed hourly. Some have called such fees “hourly billing in drag” or a “wolf in sheep’s clothing.” Whatever the characterization, the bottom line is that such fee proposals do not deliver value to clients.
If a firm is interested in delivering value to clients, perhaps the title should match the responsibility. A few firms seem to get the issue. But far too few for clients to breathe easy.