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Posted by: Laurence Simons 25/10/12

Looking for a job in Biglaw? Well, there's a good news/bad news-style scenario brewing, as FindLaw reports. Firstly, the good: Biglaw is tentatively hiring again -  phew. Now the not-so-good news: Biglaw isn't looking for new associates so much. Instead, the hot new job role is that of a Pricing Director.

"What," asks every single editorial on the subject "is a Pricing Director?" A pricing director is this: primarily, the role is strategic; helping private firms set prices for legal work that demonstrates value to clients but doesn't leave firms staring into a Dewey-shaped abyss. This emerging role is popular in part due to the nature of the market: in-house clients are now demanding more from outside firms for less. And delivering that takes a pricing director behind the scenes to do some major tinkering with a calculator and a spreadsheet.

As's Susan Hackett notes, it means private firms are seeing a major shift in their pricing structure from the traditional model (last year's figures + PEP, or, 'name whatever price you like') to a more robust billable model, which sees Biglaw firms and private clients inch towards a compromise on the price and pricing structure of their service. It takes a whole lot of data analysis to get towards a figure both parties can underline and circle in red pen, but with private firms having a rough year; it could be this pricing shift is just the thing to kick-start the market.

"In a world where you can dictate prices and where clients are either ill-equipped to manage them or uninterested in controlling costs, firms didn't have to base their prices on the cost of producing the service or product," says leading commenter and Pricing Director for Akin Gump, Toby Brown. "Times have changed."

So where do we stand on the good-news, bad-news spectrum? Sort of straddling the middle. While the changing pricing model might mean less money coming in for law firms as clients negotiate that bit harder, the Pricing Director role does offer another rung on the ladder at the end of the partner track. As long as you're good at maths.