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It’s hard to imagine a more perfect opportunity for legal marketing professionals to earn a seat at the leadership table than the pricing revolution happening today in our industry. No longer a necessity of the latest recessionary period, alternative fee arrangements, or AFAs, are becoming increasingly more routine for businesses seeking to better manage their outside legal spend. The most progressive firms are developing sophisticated tools to help price AFAs, investing in legal project management training for lawyers, and analyzing the profitability of matters managed outside of the traditional billable hour.
While most firms take a collaborative approach in their strategic AFA development process by including members of finance, accounting, IT, and practice and office leadership, let us not forget that price is one of the “four P’s of marketing.”
As law firms large and small develop AFA strategies, implement and measure results, it’s imperative that the marketing department be an integral part of the process at all stages of the cycle. Done right, AFAs can be both highly profitable as well as a powerful competitive differentiator to the legal buyer. Below are a few areas where marketing can add significant value in the AFA process.
Educating Lawyers on AFA Structures, Terms and Formulas
Despite the fact that AFAs are expected to comprise 13.4% of all fees billed in 2012, according to a Citi Private Bank managing partner survey, many lawyers are still standing at the starting line when it comes to understanding these new pricing structures. Much of this confusion is due to the seemingly endless number of ways certain types of work can be managed, and how the shifting of risk can create value in the eyes of clients.
Marketing can alleviate this paralysis by helping define and aggregate details on common types of AFAs, and sharing this information at the outset of preparing a tailored fee agreement. These kinds of details might include:
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