Compelled to try to control legal costs, general counsel across the land are hypnotically drawn to billing-rate discounts. “Eight percent off your standard rates” mesmerizes those who have to account for spending on outside counsel. “Look what we’ve saved!” they proclaim. Well, maybe.

I’m suspicious of discounts on legal fees as a cost-control tool. Ultimately, they don’t alter the dysfunctionality of hourly billing. Law firms still enjoy a cost-plus arrangement, inducements to pad law firm bills are everywhere, and in-house lawyers must still flyspeck long bills. Several other aspects of fee discounts are problematic, too.

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