Forget billing back to clients that swordfish you ordered and consumed at dinner with them. Today in THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, Jennifer Smith chronicles how carefully clients are investigating the expense reports submitted to them (article available only on subscription basis).
Also, since they have having their own personnel fly coach, they are demanding the same accommodations for outside lawyers. Some, like Johnson & Johnson, are even getting radical. J&J has its own subscriptions to legal databases like Westlaw and requires outside counsel to use those.
Of course, Smith also mentions that clients refuse to subsidize the training of first and second year associates. They also are putting limits on how many partners man a deposition. After all, some bill $1000 a hour.
With clients taking seriously the bills which come in from law firms, it might not be long before they experiment trying out a firms with very different models such as virtual.