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  • Neil

Everyone is talking about Matter Pricing, but it really has to start with Matter COSTING - right?

Updated: Aug 10, 2018

This point is inherent in my arguments about matter budgeting - as set out in the article on the Resources page, and also flows from my analysis of the human cognitive biases inherent in generic planning - see other Blog post.


However, I still find when I go to law firms to talk about this subject that I meet the Global Director of Pricing (not costing) and they all talk about the difficulty of pricing (not costing)


They still don't get it. Pricing is easy, pricing is a doddle, anyone can do it - the client will help you out here - the problem is not pricing, it is costing. Costing is not easy, costing actually is hard - and what is more lawyers are even worse at it than ordinary humans.


  • First - scope - identify what the client needs

  • Second - cost it - work out how many of what resources you will need to meet that need

  • Third - price it - what will the client pay

And you must do it in that order. If you it work out backwards from what the client wants to pay, your innate cognitive biases will tend to push you to 'miraculously' find that you can just do the job for the client's price.


But many lawyers do actually do it in the wrong order. It is the same wrong-headed thinking that makes a lawyer working in fixed price markets say that there is no reason for them to record their time any more. Of course they should! This is still the major element of their costs. Without good time recording, matter management and profitability analysis - which compares historically how much something actually cost, as opposed to what they thought it would cost i.e. realisation - how can anyone expect to work out at what price to fix their fixed cost work?


What many lawyers, including partners, really need is financial/commercial training to really understand the difference between cost and price - that which we call profit.