Corporate Counsel Partners, ALCSmith&wilson Legal Solutions for Entrepreneurs and Emerging Companies


Here’s something that we quickly learned about why clients are so hesitant to contact their attorneys before a problem develops. The number one reason most companies don’t involve their counsel in key decisions is cost — getting charged for every phone call you make, including charges just to determine whether the attorney has the expertise to handle the matter, or whether help from the attorney is even needed.

We’ve all had occasion to pick up the phone and get an answer to a question that comes up in the day-to-day operation of the business. If we wanted to inquire about the services that a specific vendor offered, we would be surprised if we were charged just to get a basic estimate. Yet most attorneys do just that – charge for basic consultation.

Our policy is different. Whether you are a first time client or one of the businesses with whom we’ve developed a long-term relationship, our philosophy is simple: we want to be involved in your decision making and don’t want cost to get in the way. We do that in several ways:

♦   If you are a new client, we’d like to get to know you and to make sure we can best meet your needs. That means paying particular attention to what your company does, how you do it, and what types of legal issues are most likely to arise. Occasionally, we find that another firm might better serve your needs, and we are more than happy to provide referrals to other attorneys who are better able to address a specific issue. Most often, however, we find that getting to know your business and the context in which you operate helps us to better represent you. For that reason, our consultations are free of charge. We are also available to meet at your offices because we find that helps us to gain a greater understanding of how your company operates.

♦   If you are an existing client, we believe consultation does not end with the initial meeting. Our Outsource General Counsel Program is designed specifically to allow on-going consultation regarding general matters — free of charge — so we can focus on delivering services in cases where there is true value to the company, while avoiding costs that don’t advance your interests. Learn more about our Outsource General Counsel Program here.

♦   In addition to our policy regarding consultation, clients need real information about legal costs before undertaking a matter. This allows them to weigh the costs against the benefits prior to moving forward. Here’s how we help to minimize costs, add value and help you budget your legal costs:

◊   We are very comfortable giving estimates up front and can often provide our estimates on a not-to-exceed basis so that you have a valuable tool to budget how much a certain task will cost. We find clients benefit from having more control over their legal costs, rather than watching the meter run without any control on the direction of their legal matters.

◊   We believe our hourly rates are lower than other attorneys with similar experience and who work on similar matters. It’s not just our belief – we’ve repeatedly had clients make similar comments to us. But the real measure of legal cost is not the rate an attorney will charge, it is the number of hours that an attorney will bill for the task. The reality is that some attorneys take longer to perform a task than others. Even more dismaying, there are some attorneys who believe that a task should be billed at a certain number of hours, regardless of how many hours it actually takes, because that’s what the task is “worth.” We take a completely different view of billing. We want to work efficiently to make sure you are benefiting from all of those years of experience that are reflected in our hourly rate, and not penalized for it. We bill our actual time, rather than the time something is perceived to require. Quality work billed at fair prices is perhaps the most significant reasons that most of our clients stay with us year after year.