Top 10 things law firm clients hate about their bills (hint: many may sound familiar to BV practitioners)

BVWireIssue #77-4
February 25, 2009

Although BV practitioners almost always factor in hourly rates during the project fee budgeting process, hourly billing is not the most common method of communicating fees to clients in the BV profession, data from our recently-released 2009 Business Valuation Firm Economics & Best Practices Survey show. Nonetheless, there are lessons to be learned for appraisal experts from a popular session at the Marketing Partner Forum—an annual gathering of law firm leaders and marketing pros from across the country. At this year’s gathering, Ivan K. Fong, Chief Legal Officer and Secretary with Dublin, Ohio’s Cardinal Health, Inc., offered the list of client grievances outlined below. Interestingly, the list—as outlined on legal business development consultant Larry Bodine’s Law Marketing Blog—offer insights that are just as appropriate for the business valuation profession. Consider Fong’s list of client grievances:    


Who is the new guy on the bill and why is he spending my money?        


What is this 20-page memo I’ve never seen?    


Why am I paying for another client’s work?      


Did anyone add up all the time spent on this motion?     


What exactly is this attorney doing? There is no specific description of the lawyer’s activity.


Did anyone bother to read our outside counsel policy?


Did anyone proofread this bill?


What does it mean to “analyze” or “strategize” or “attend to” a motion for 2 hours? What did you really do?


How did we get so off budget?


One of our lawyers is a woman, Ms. Mayer, and she gets a number of bills addressed to “Mr. Mayer.” You should know how to spell the names of your clients.

The prevailing lesson, of course, is that communication is critical. Each point offers essential “food for thought” for any expert looking to hold on to clients in this shaky economy.


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