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GC Mike Dillon, Out of Context

About a week ago, we posted here about how more and more lawyers' billing rates are breaking the $1,000/hour barrier. We also referenced a quote from Sun GC

Mike Dillon in the Wall Street Journal article on billing rates as saying that he didn't believe that charing $1,000 an hour for legal services was inherently unreasonable. At least one law blogger took Dillon to task for his comment. As for me, I didn't view Dillon's remarks as outrageous (as I noted, if a lawyer can dispose of a case with a 60-minute, thousand-dollar-an-hour phone call, then he deserves that rate). But the quote struck me as odd for someone who'd authored a classic blog post like The Way of the Mastodon, which makes the point that in the Internet Age, corporate clients can locate more competitive options for legal services and need not remain captive to Biglaw's increasing rates.

Dillon doesn't deny the comment, but he does explain it further in this blog post. He writes:

I did state and I do believe that there may be times when a $1,000/hour fee is warranted. If you are embroiled in a complex, "bet the company" type of litigation, most GCs will happily pay this hourly rate - provided the value received is commensurate with the fee. This means the services of an attorney with very specific and unique skills, plenty of experience, and the ability to quickly drive a high exposure problem to a favorable resolution.  The reality is that most companies will rarely, if ever, require these types of legal services.  Most of my discussion with the reporter focused on the larger issue, which is the economic misalignment between traditional firms and their corporate clients. I also shared with the reporter some of the things we are doing at Sun to reduce the impact of this misalignment.

Dillon goes on to write that he doesn't mind that the reporter didn't write about Sun's measures to contain legal costs because the reporter had a different focus for the story. However, Dillon concludes that "context is everything and having a blog is a great way to provide it."

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on August 28, 2007 at 07:30 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)


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