As long as law firms define a “productive” associate as one who bills more hours (the more hours, the more productive), value will remain an elusive quality at best for the clients of those firms. I believe that, for the most part, most lawyers want to provide a useful and valuable service for their clients. Does that translate into delivering high-value legal service for those clients? Unfortunately, in too many situations, the answer is “no.” In fact, I think that the typical structure of a law firm, including its internal compensation and reward systems, makes it more difficult to deliver high value than would otherwise be the case.
Even with that, more lawyers (both in-house and out-house) have begun discussing value and searching for a definition and a useful measurement tool. That I find to be worth noting and even extolling. We’ve begun an exploration of an issue of critical importance to the legal profession, but I suspect that it will take a long time to reach useful conclusions.