Monthly Archives: February 2016

Pick any two …

455px-Project-triangle.svgMany years ago, I first heard the following:

“You can pick any two of the following: fast, good or cheap.”

The idea is that customers buying goods or services would like to have it all: high quality, delivered quickly and at a low price.

“Pick any two” reflects the reality from the perspective of the manufacturer or service provider.   Providing any combination of two of these three characteristics can be done relatively easily, but only by sacrificing the third element.  In other words:

  • You can have it delivered fast and at a high quality, but it won’t be cheap.
  • You can have it delivered fast and cheap, but it won’t be high quality.
  • You can have it delivered at a high quality and cheaply, but it won’t be fast.

A more nuanced way of looking at it is that speed, quality and price must be balanced.  If you want more of one (or two) of these elements, then the result is a trade-off against the remaining one.

We see this balancing act at play in the delivery of legal services at our firm.  Here is how we approach the problem.

Firstly, high quality is always our top priority.  Among other things, this is a function of being professionals: we simply won’t agree to provide lower quality legal services.  Of course, clients want that as well.  We’ve never had a client ask for lower quality legal advice and representation.

Our main focus is to balance the other two issues: speed and price.  We work with our clients to help them choose whether speedy delivery of services or a lower price is more important.

Our experience most often is that clients want the high quality legal services as quickly as possible.  The challenge is to identify how fast is necessary.  If the matter has to be prioritized ahead of already existing commitments to our other clients, then this means that we have to “find” the time elsewhere by reallocating our resources.  In practical terms, this means working overtime to meet the client’s needs.  This is reflected in a higher price.

Sometimes the choice is already made.  When a client comes to us with an imminent court date or a real estate transaction closing on a tight timeline, the “any two” have already been allocated.  The client receives high quality legal services quickly, but this is reflected in the price.

There are several ways to control costs for clients.

First, we can sometimes bundle some legal services together so that they are priced lower that the components would be if purchased separately.  The best example of this is in our estate planning services.  We offer bundled pricing for the most common estate planning documents: a Will, Enduring Power of Attorney and Personal Directive.

Another approach is so-called “unbundling” of legal services.  Here the lawyer and client  agree to limit the scope of the legal services being provided.  Essentially, this means limiting the quantity of what the lawyer does.  In this model of delivering legal services, lawyer and client examine the range of tasks necessary to deal with a legal problem and decide which tasks the lawyer will deal with, and which the client will handle.  This allows the client to have better control over his or her budget for legal expenditures.

Overall, maintaining high quality and getting the best balance between speed and price is our day-to-day focus at Patriot Law.