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Client Service

Navigating the AFA Maze

By David Ackert on February, 7 2017

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David Ackert

David Ackert, M.A., is the President of Practice Pipeline and a mentor to high-achieving service professionals and their firms. He has developed and implemented business development programs for hundreds of firms across the globe, many of whom hail from the top of the Am Law list. Widely recognized as a business development pioneer in the legal field, David’s programs have won the Legal Marketing Association's “Your Honor Award” in the US and Canada. The combination of technology and coaching has become a hallmark of his programs. David has published and been quoted in many major media outlets, and often leads panels and makes seminar presentations on effective communication and business development strategies. He regularly keynotes at law firm partner retreats and trade conferences. He serves as a guest lecturer at USC’s Marshall School of Business, Carnegie Mellon University, and at the UCLA School of Law. David holds degrees from Carnegie Mellon University, Ithaca College, and University of Santa Monica, from which he earned a Master’s in Psychology. He is also a certified Business Coach.

rates-standard-collected.pngIt seems more and more that standard rates are becoming a formality in our industry. Every year, law firms raise their rates but their clients react simply by demanding deeper discounts. Thomson Reuters’ latest Peer Monitor survey illustrates this trend with the increasing gap between the steadily ascending standard rate (the grey line) and the relatively flat dollars collected (the orange line).    

Some firms have mastered the art of creating win/win alternatives, while others have gotten lost in the maze, conceding to discounts and hoping to make up for it with volume. But understanding the various AFA structures (fixed, flat, capped, collared, blended, holdbacks, etc.) and when to introduce them into a negotiation with a client is a skill well worth learning. It’s also important to remember that not all AFAs are monetary. Oftentimes a firm can request intangibles that are relatively easy for the client to grant and worth far more from a business development perspective than the discounted dollars—things like attendance at the next board meeting or an introduction to a client's subsidiary.

On February 15 at 1pm EST, I will be presenting a webinar with Terry Williams, Global Director of Strategic Pricing at Hogan Lovells, on key AFA strategies. I hope you will join us and discover how to stop leaving money on the table. 

Register for the Webinar


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