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Lawyers have trouble talking about money. That’s a gross generalization, but it’s one I’ve come to after spending the last month listening to partners, in-house counsel, and the latest breed of expert who is helping firms, the pricing specialist. Some of this is personal: Embarrassment, anxiety, introversion, and habit all play their parts. Together they help explain why the hourly rate thrives and why so many arguments about legal costs are beside the point. It’s easier to quibble about marginalia—why is there a third second-year on this file—than to address the heart of a matter: What’s this worth to me, and can we afford to buy it or produce it for that price?

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