The shift in the balance of power towards consumers means less “shouting” (marketing) about your product or service, according to Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder.

"Before if you were making a product, the right business strategy was to put 70% of your attention, energy, and dollars into shouting about a product, and 30% into making a great product. So you could win with a mediocre product, if you were a good enough marketer. That is getting harder to do. The balance of power is shifting toward consumers and away from companies…the individual is empowered… The right way to respond to this if you are a company is to put the vast majority of your energy, attention and dollars into building a great product or service and put a smaller amount into shouting about it, marketing it. If I build a great product or service, my customers will tell each other."

See the Bezos interview and transcript.

The legal services industry has seen a similar shift in power from lawyer to client and a correspondingly greater emphasis on providing better quality legal service for less money, as described, among other places, by author and lawyer Pat Lamb in Alternative Fee Arrangements: Value Fees and the Changing Legal Market.   This is the "new normal" to which most law firms must adapt or die.  But does this mean that the need for shouting by the new normal firm is significantly reduced?  For now at least, the answer is no.

Here’s why.Continue Reading Marketing New Normal Firm: Shouting Still Necessary

A Japanese IP firm has expressed interest in sharing fees with CLP on US-based IP litigation, prompting us to ask ourselves whether this is ethically permissible.

We already knew that here in California or elsewhere around the country the rules of professional conduct permit fee sharing between US based lawyers who are not members of the same law firm.   (Keeping in mind that local requirements can vary as discussed in the postscript below.)

The ABA’s 2009 paper, “Joint Responsibility: Sharing Legal Fees Between Lawyers Not in the Same Firm,” confirms the wide-spread acceptance of fee sharing and provides some good examples of the different state rules.

Fee sharing is part of CLP’s DNA because it allows us to scale with expert patent and IP transaction lawyers without bearing the incredibly high overhead of keeping all this great talent under one roof. We’ve had to become fluent on the applicable ethical rules. Prospective clients are less willing to hire CLP unless they are comfortable, in their words, “with how this [fee sharing] works.”

For example, a recent CLP pitch deck included the following slide explaining how the client enters into one engagement agreement signed by each of the fee sharing attorneys, as well as how the agreement discloses the fee arrangement and otherwise obtains the client’s informed consent in compliance with applicable ethical rules.

So CLP gets fee sharing. We use it successfully with other stateside lawyers and firms. Yet could we take it overseas?   We were highly incented to do so based on the big-time benefits of fee sharing for all concerned: the client; the referring Japanese firm; and CLP.

  • The client, a Japanese technology company, would get cost-effective and expert patent trial counsel from CLP, and also would receive continuing advice, counsel and guidance from its trusted Japanese counsel (which, as any US lawyer who has litigated on behalf of an Asian client will tell you, is crucial to enjoying timely and effective communication between US lawyer and their Japanese clients).
  • The Japanese firm would retain a valued client relationship and would capture fee revenue that it otherwise would lose to other firms.
  • CLP would enlarge its pipeline of core IP patent litigation.

We therefore were delighted to learn that yes, we could share fees with our Japanese colleagues.

Continue Reading Fee Sharing With Foreign Lawyers