OK boys and girls gather around: its story time.

Many years ago an All American basketball player named Ernie Di Gregorio was paid the unheard of sum of one hundred thousand dollars to sign a pro contract. A TV reporter asked him: "Ernie is any basketball player worth a hundred thousand dollars? And Ernie replied: " Of course not- but as long as someone is willing to write the check I will gladly take their money"

I was reminded of this story after reading in yesterday's Wall Street Journal that $1,000 per hour billing rates are more and more common at some New York law firms. The article focuses on the pros and cons of crossing the 1K barrier or staying slightly under it at $995.00 per hour.

One general counsel quoted in the article opines that " $1,000 for very seasoned lawyers who can solve complex problems doesn't seem to be inappropriate".

Which reminded me of another story. During my freshman year in college several friends incessantly proclaimed that they were beer connoisseurs- and as such they had developed palates that could easily distinguish between blue collar Budweiser and imports such as Heineken's or Guinness. So we put them to a test. We blindfolded them and let them attempt to identify different brands of beer.

As you might expect- they failed miserably. The best were the worst and the worst were the best.

And the moral of these two stories? Does anyone really think that a $1,000 per hour lawyer is twice as experienced, twice as creative, twice as effective as some poor Joe charging only $500.00 per hour? And mister General Counsel- if you do then why not conduct your own blindfold test. I feel quite confident that I can predict the outcome.

And please don't attempt to rationalize your decision by using that tired phrase "bet the ranch litigation". As the field of behavioral economics wants always to remind us Dollars are Dollars. If its worthwhile to save $10.00 on a $20.00 purchase then those same dollars should be saved on a $100 purchase.

But I don't want to leave you with any doubts. I am a very seasoned lawyer who can solve complex legal problems. And if you act quickly, before my rates double , I may just help you for $1000 per hour.


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