f/k/a archives . . . real opinions & real haiku

April 21, 2005

ron baker: sensitive guy?

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 11:55 pm

I don’t know the private personality of value-pricing guru (and hourly-billing nemesis) Ron Baker, but he sure does care about price sensitivity. As I discussed in a post two days ago, Ron left a Comment asking me to read his work more thoroughly, before concluding that he’s insensitive to the ethical aspects of value billing and premium pricing by lawyers.

RonBaker Yesterday, while waiting to see whether Ron would send me a copy of his latest tome, I clicked on a link from my Referer Page to the Google query [Ron Baker hourly billing], and instantly came upon his articlesHourly Billing Limits Profitabilty” and “Pricing Strategies” (SmartPros, Jan. 2000), which eventually led me to a few other articles and then back to his book The Firm of the Future. I thought that many of Ron’s analogies and examples were inapt (e.g., airline tickets, insurance policies, mortgages) for pricing strategies to be employed within the special relationship of lawyer and client for the provision of legal services — especially to the less-sophisticated client. Mostly, though, I was struck by the centrality of price (in)sensitivity in Ron’s pricing strategy, as he campaigns against hourly billing and its “limited” profits.

Baker advises professionals to maximize their “leverage” over each client, maneuvering so that the client is far less price-sensitive. This allows the professional to charge “premium fees,” well over the amounts that would be yielded using the billable hour method, resulting in increased profits (and more leisure time for the professional). This is apparently Ron’s ethics-sensitive alternative to client dissatisfaction with hourly billing. His position is justified with a self-righteous condemnation of the billable hour system itself (rather than its abuse or the profit motive that fuels its excesses) as unethical. His definition of “value” is no longer the provision of a quality product at a reasonable price, but instead the provision of services at whatever price can be leveraged out of the client. The professional gets significantly richer and the client gets the subjective feeling of receiving more value.

hat rabbit So, yes, I’ve read more of Ron Baker’s teachings, and I’m even less convinced that “what-we-can-get-away-with” is an appropriate pricing strategy and ethos for lawyers. I’m also amazed by the ethical blindness created by the glow of pots of gold. Lord, please save the client from such professionals, such ethics and such fiducial protection!

click here to see excerpts from Ron’s writings on the subject of price sensitivity, leveraging and premium pricing in the context of so-called value pricing; some editorial annotation is also supplied. You might especially check out Mr. Baker’s proposed use of the Change Order to “leverage” premium fees from clients who have signed a Fixed Fee agreement. E.g, in Change Orders: What a Concept!“, Ron says:

“A favorite way to make the client insensitive to premium fees is the use of Change Orders when services are needed beyond those covered in the initial fixed-price arrangement [no kiddies, pricing can’t really all be done up front]. “

Ed. Note: In addition to adopting a more guru-new-agey image, Baker has taken some of his most frank, troublesome, avaricious phrases out of articles mentioned here at f/k/a.  In some instances, the version quoted is no longer available online, and we’ve had to link to subsequent, scrubbed versions.

for the fat green from
crouched on the log
time is flies

…………… by George Swede from Almost Unseen

in my thicket
they’re out of time…

cherry blossoms–
residents of this world
a short time

spring mist–
people without hoes
wasting time

……………………………. from Kobayashi Issa, translated by David G. Lanoue

haiku potluck: horses, baseball, scarecrow

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 4:41 pm


Fog in the meadow —

the soft arc of horses’ necks

faintly visible




Rainfall pelts the roof —

smell of fresh pine chips

from the pinto’s empty stall



(Birch Prees Press, 2002)









     51 candles


     still this wish


     pitch in yankee








withering wind…

the scarecrow’s jacket





Ed Markwoski

“51 candles” to appear in The Elysian Fields Quarterly.








I’m the scarecrow’s









at evening’s bell
the fields are crowded…
with scarecrows!



translated by David G. Lanoue  




by dagosan:  

flood damage —


our new riparian beach







haven’t seen her

in 30 years —

sending one more chaste email

                                                                                 [April 21, 2005]



tiny check  Them too sensitive?  Why are Steve Bainbridge and other conservative Catholics so upset

by the negative responses of lefties and the nonbelieving media to the election of Cardinal

Ratzinger to the papacy?  I’d expect a more dignified — not to mention Christ-like — response

from individuals who think Benedict XVI was chosen by the Holy Spirit and possesses The

Truth.  Benedict certainly can take care of himself and doesn’t need his side of the blogosphere

reacting to negative press with their own counter-hissy-fits — not to  mention their own less-

than-objective interpretations of Ratzinger’s pre-papal actions, writings and comments.


tiny check Me too Sensitive?  Although Prof. B. didn’t seem to mind, I couldn’t help but feel the  “dagMugS” 

scourge of lookism in Don Hewitt’s op/ed piece in yesterday’s New York Times (“New with Views,”

April 20, 2005)  Hewitt, creator of “60 Minutes,” thinks network news broadcasts could attract

more viewers by “taking a page from the 60 Minutes book and offering some audacious commentary.  

So far so good, but Hewitt then limits the commentator role to “bright, attractive articulate men and

women.”  That gets this old goat‘s goat.  It’s tough enough being bright and articulate most days. 

Going for “attractive” is going to be a stretch.   On the other hand, this guy got a pretty good slot.


tiny check  She’s too busy:  I’m sorry to hear that Marcia Oddi is going to stop posting at her always-interesting

(even to non-Hoosiers) site, The Indiana Law Blog.   Marcia says “I love doing the blog, but it is

taking up far too much of the time that I need to spend: (1) producing income; and (2) finding new

clients for my “information solutions” business. ”  I wish Marcia all the best and hope she’ll have

time to be a commentor and visitor at other weblogs.

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