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Daniel Hull

I read (1) the Tribune article on Henning, (2) Henning's comment you quoted that he was encouraging general counsel to not put up with billing cheaters and (3) your more expansive comment (which I loved) implying that GCs should demand more in any event.

In the last few years, our boutique firm has seen good clients leave major law firms of the type in which we were once partners and come to us, a much smaller shop. In my experience, good clients don't switch for price even if they think they are doing that. It's almost a cliche, but it is real service they want: genuine attention and their strong gut feeling that you understand their business, you worry about them off the clock, and you get things done.

Initially, some of our "refugee" clients, notably the larger ones, behave somewhat like abused children--eternally grateful for the most basic and (to my mind) just average level of attention and responsiveness that most large law firms (100+)could be expected to deliver. In many cases, the quality and delivery time of the service/product is roughly the same as in the former large firm. And price is about the same.

If we have done anything right, it is that have tried to surprise the client a bit by giving it something beyond what it expects. But it's just not that hard to do. Is our standard higher? Maybe--but what I think is happening is that past experiences have made even the best clients have low expectations. So surprising them and competing on service becomes easier than it should be.

You really can compete and keep great clients on service alone. That's great for lawyers--but it's really unfortunate for clients.

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