Friday, May 02, 2008

What clients will pay for

Oops. I meant the title of this post to say: "For what clients will pay."

Yesterday a commenter reminded me that most lawyers are too busy to polish their work as much as they should. I agreed. Today, a commenter pointed out another reason lawyers don't polish their writing as they should:
Clients aren't willing to pay to have perfect work product. More often than not, clients are pragmatic: they want "good enough" to get what they want.
This is also true. Let's take contracts for example. Only a tiny percentage of contracts end up in litigation. Almost all of them get the job done even though they aren't well polished. If that's true, the rational client should want the mediocre contract that gets the job done and not the polished contract that also gets the job done but that costs twice as much.

But a commenter who has been a client responds that, apparently, not all clients feel that way:
I have been a client. No litigation, no contracts, so perhaps my comments don't count. But in letters between my attorney and their attorney, I wanted careful editing (in fact, I edited them myself), no unnecessary words, polish, and highly intelligent writing.
So we must acknowledge that some clients want perfect written work. But it is telling, I think, that this client had to do some of the polishing herself. Would she have been just as insistent on a well polished letter if it had cost $250 instead of $150?

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