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Olivier A. Taillieu is a partner with Zuber & Taillieu LLP, Los Angeles. Mark Wolf is general counsel with FMC Technologies, Houston.
Let’s face it—litigation is expensive and getting more so every year. In Fulbright’s 6th Annual Litigation Trends Survey Report, published in 2009, the international law firm Fulbright & Jaworski LLP reported its finding that the number of U.S. companies spending $1 million or more annually on litigation has increased from 45 percent in 2007 to 53 percent in 2008 with the most dramatic increases among smaller and mid-sized companies. Although most companies surveyed linked the current strained economy with increased litigation, that same economy has caused about 20 percent of companies to shrink litigation budgets, reduce litigation expenditures, and think twice before initiating litigation at all.
While some in-house departments and law firms have begun to explore alternative fee arrangements, such arrangements have not caught on in the United States as widely as anticipated. Absent such an arrangement, attorneys face increasing pressure from clients to keep litigation costs as low as possible. This article discusses some practical ways for practicing attorneys to keep litigation costs from skyrocketing and, ultimately, to keep clients happy.