There are lots of reasons clients change law firms, or choose lawyers, other than price. In fact, studies have shown that price is a relatively insignificant factor when it comes to choosing one firm over another. The lowest price doesn’t always win. Many clients leave law firms because they feel the firms are not responsive enough, because the lawyer doesn’t listen to what the client really wants, because the rapport just isn’t there, because the lawyer wasn’t forthcoming about problems with the case, because the lawyer failed to adequately explain the steps to the client and manage the client’s expectations at the outset, and for a host of other reasons.
The lawyer/law firm-client relationship is just that – a relationship. If a solo can establish a rapport with a certain type of client or within a certain type of industry, build or demonstrate knowledge and, more important, trust, price shouldn’t be a major factor in the decision.
A solo that can show that she is capable, listens to the client, focuses on the client’s needs, and is responsive to client calls, requests, etc. can often outshine a larger law firm. Although clients often express dissatisfaction with their representation in terms of the fees that they’re being charged, the real reason for their defection isn’t the rate or fees themselves- it’s that they don’t feel they’re getting value for their money, and they don’t feel that their lawyer cares about them. Solos often are attractive to clients because clients feel they get more personal attention, and they’re willing to pay for it.
I am beginning to think there is merit in this argument and that reducing fees to make them cheaper can be perceived as somehow devaluing the services rendered. It goes back to the issue of perceptions and how there can be perceived value where there is little, if any, real value and vice versa. As much as I’d like to single handedly change those perceptions, it just isn’t going to happen all at once. In the meantime my time is best spent doing work that means something for my clients and providing the best service I can.