Digital White Papers

December 2013: Business and Financial Management

publication of the International Legal Technology Association

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A PRICING PARTY: BALLOONS, WIZARDS AND CRYSTAL BALLS challenge for the pricing function at a law firm or corporation, especially if the organization has not traditionally focused on matter management and classification. Yet it is essential, in our view, before firms can develop accurate budgets and realistic pricing proposals. but expressed some concerns about the accuracy of his estimate given his lack of experience developing detailed trial budgets. Given these concerns, the pricing director suggested researching key financial metrics of other trials with similar characteristics to help inform financial systems. To his dismay, the fee billings and value of hours worked on the purportedly "similar" matters varied greatly. After reviewing and comparing the financial data in seemingly every way conceivable, reality set in — the financial data simply did not lead to any meaningful, actionable conclusions. It became clear that more information and validate the partner's bottom-up estimate. The partner quickly recalled a handful of similar trials that he and others at the firm had handled, which provided a great starting point for the historical research. was needed about the similar matters in order identify the key matter attributes driving the costs for each case. Panic started to set in as the deadline loomed. Enter the firm's litigation knowledge manager. The pricing director researched the matters and gathered relevant financial metrics from the firm's The knowledge manager worked with the pricing director to dig into a wealth of matter data There are challenges involved with organizing your matter information to be useful to pricing efforts (so you can find the right balloons). A novel approach to the pricing process is in the development of an expert system with respect to a comparable set of matters, which can create synergy between the knowledge management and pricing functions. This approach has led to some successes at our firm. "THE TRIALS" — A CASE STUDY In connection with a complex, high-stakes intellectual property litigation, a client requested a budget for all work performed for the two months leading up to and through trial. The lead partner handling the case contacted the firm's pricing director and asked for assistance in coming up with an accurate estimate. As is frequently the case, the request was urgent — the client needed the estimate that same day. The partner was amenable to building a budget using a bottom-up approach involving estimating hours by timekeeper and task,

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