Outside counsel quoted $12k for a project. Got a pre-issued invoice of $30k. Relationship partner is honoring the $12k. I told them I'd pay $16k (the highest quote we received on the project.) RP and I go way back. Apparently, the increase came from an of counsel specialist. We do these projects routinely and costs are generally around $10-15k from peer firms (V50ish). I seriously feel like some hours were padded here or their "specialist" isn't one. What have others done in this situation?

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Just to add a bit more context. We just started using this outside firm. I am thinking of never using them for those projects, but use them for other stuff. I told RP, if you are beyond your expertise, that's fine. There's plenty of other work to go around.

If you take out the specialist, they come under budget. From other law firm bills, the "specialist" role is really only 2-4 hrs of time. Here the specialist spent 20 hrs.

I also told the RP. If you are going to exceed your budget, let me know before hand. Going back to the business for more money once you've blown past your quote makes us both look inept.

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I’m a senior associate specialist and this has been happening recently due to new legislation in my area. Partner usually cuts the bill before sending an invoice. It may be helpful to ask RP if there was something in particular the specialist spent time looking into before assuming the extra hours were padding. What appears to be a routine deal doesn’t always turn out to be routine.

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That's fair. I am getting a full itemized bill soon. We have an identical project going on right now with Firm B and I'll see what they charge in a few weeks.

The odd thing is from quote to completion the timing is 2 weeks and the other firms were within our normal range, but for that one at 16k. They are habitually high.

The resulting product is based off some precedent I shared with only marginal changes. As background,y suspicion was raised bc I used to do this (the specialist's role) when I was back in biglaw.

Getting a bill more than double my estimate with no explanation or warning is the kind of thing that makes me choose other counsel. Firms don’t realize that we have comparisons with their competitors, and it’s very noticeable when one firm does this for routine work that others don’t.

We regularly have this issue with bid protests with a couple of firms and frankly, have stopped using them because of it. I get sick of hearing excuses as to why their estimates were significantly off when my two favorite firms don’t seem to have these issues, or at least have the courtesy to let me know.

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That is probably the more infuriating part. This isn't a grand or two over. They punted the ball out of the stadium here. I had them quote a larger project, and I might ask them to revisit the numbers again. I lost trust in their numbers/quotes. If they can't prescope it, that is fine too. I guess it all comes down to just being honest.

As a specialist, I hate quoting a set price, because you never know what you're going to find until you look under the hood. That said, the usual answer is to go back and say this is a much bigger project than we anticipated, you have to fix x, y, and z, etc. That said twenty hours for an of counsel specialist sounds like a lot for a routine matter.

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100%. I told the RP that if you can't quote or need to condition the hell out it, that works. I feel like such a big increase necessitates a call before those extra hours are incurred. I can take some work back internally or look to get an increase budget from the business. Once the cake is in the oven, I can't change the recipe much.

As a specialist myself I can tell you what you think takes 2-4 in a generalist or transactional work context is usually at least double in specialist context if they’re researching and resolving conflicts between what you are asking for and what regulations require.

I also never asked for a quote for specialist work because you want to get the right answer—not a subpar answer because they don’t want to screw themselves in bills.

I would pay at most 16k, and definitely not more.

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