At this weekend’s Nevada State Bar convention in Vail, Colorado, one of the speakers hit upon a topic dear to the heart of clients and their lawyers. The speaker, a professor at Georgetown law school, started his lecture with maps. Yes, maps. He pointed out how the law is much like a map, in that the client and his lawyer go from place to place. But, unlike maps, there is little in the way of fee reference points. The lawyer simply says something like: “I will charge you $600 per hour but, since I have no clue how hard the other side will fight, I can’t fix the ultimate fee at this time.” So the client can’t budget or assess whether to settle or proceed. If its not a life-changing dispute, the client will often just capitulate or try to represent himself.
The professor told us attendees that help was on the way in the form of analytics…computer programs that show the average high and the average low number of attorney hours for that kind of dispute. I bought one of those programs and plan to learn to use it soon. Fairness to both the lawyer and the client involves some way of knowing the unknowable. At least its worth a try. I will report as I learn how to use the program.