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Some of Europe’s most senior general counsel have warned law firms to expect a lasting shake up in how they’re retained and paid. Convening for a breakfast roundtable at London’s College of Law yesterday, legal heads from major corporations including Royal Dutch Shell PLC, Nokia Corporation and British Airways PLC emphasized their intention to drive further changes in billing methods, as the balance of power between clients and their attorneys continues to shift. “Like many other companies, we face a lot of pressure with costs. We realize that they are too high and that they have to come down,” said Beat Hess, legal director and group executive committee member at Royal Dutch Shell. “I’ve been saying that for years, but it’s felt like I’ve been preaching at a graveyard: There are plenty of people down there, but nobody’s listening. Law firms have had Christmas every day for decades now, but the party is over.”

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