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Law Practice Management

Meet the ‘Hot New Hire’ of 2012, Law Firm Pricing Directors

Posted Sep 24, 2012 5:11 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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Toby Brown is the first to fill a job at Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld that may sound a bit unusual.

But not for long, predicts Susan Hackett in a lengthy Corporate Counsel article.

Hired earlier this year as Akin Gump's first director of strategic pricing & analytics, he is a leader in the hot new field of pricing directors.

Although such positions don't yet exist at a number of major firms, those who fill them are the “hot new hires” of 2012. According to Brown, more than 50 pricing directors have signed on to BigLaw jobs over the past 18 months or so, Hackett writes. Hackett, who is now a Washington, D.C., consultant, was formerly general counsel to the Association of Corporate Counsel.

What exactly are these multidisciplinary directors, who may or may not be attorneys, paid to do? They help law firms organize data and think strategically about setting prices for legal work that demonstrate value to clients, yet contribute to a solid bottom line for legal services providers, according to the article.

“It’s critical to be able to see the patterns and themes in data and apply them to pricing; just as it’s critical to be able to discern precedent in legal practice in order to help a client predict the likeliest outcome in litigation or the safest path to compliance,” explains Chris Emerson, a software engineer who serves as Bryan Cave's director of practice economics.

“For lawyers, all this new thinking may end up being easier than they thought because data, too, relies on past performance to predict future outcomes; lawyers just need help learning this new frame of reference, this new language: what data to collect, how to analyze it, and when it’s best applied to varied circumstances," says Emerson. "Even though pricing strategies require many lawyers to engage in a mind-shift, they are really good at it once given the training, tools, and insights into how it works and how to apply it.”

Related material:

LegalBizDev White Paper (PDF): Legal pricing in transition: how client demands and alternative fees are changing the way that law firms price their services"

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