How to Manage Your Law Office: Internal Controls

Internal controls are important to prevent error and ensure integrity of accounting records as well as to reduce the risk of misappropriation of assets (fraud). A good system of internal controls protects both the firm and its employees. Designing such a system requires one to consider the resources...

How to Manage Your Law Office: Types of Fees

Hourly fees are the predominant billing method used by law firms. Beginning in the late 1980s and early 1990s, some clients began to object to this method and to any form of lawyer billing rate increase. Fueled by a recession and growing consumer sophistication, the fees charged by lawyers came under...

LexisNexis Tips Series: Mastering the Basics of Alternative Fee Arrangements

Rising client demand for alternative fee arrangements (AFAs) has forced an increasing number of law firms to move away from the hourly billing model. In many respects, firms are implementing AFAs in rather entrepreneurial fashion without benefit of proper planning and controls, says Norm Mullock of LexisNexis...

Is It “Alternative Fee Arrangements” or “Value-Based Billing?”

Yes. There has been discussion over the past months as to whether the better term for non-hourly billing is "alternative fee arrangements" or "value-based billing." The answer is yes, and yes. The first "yes" is an increasing number of firms and clients - not a majority...

Will the Future Associate be a Contract Employee?

The future of the legal profession is full of uncertainty. Will the old habits return as they did after previous recessions, or will these changes be permanent? No one knows for sure, but there are some possibilities and trends to take notice of. Cost Cutting: First of all, corporations have become...

Lessons of Recession Could be Forgotten after Turn-around

Taking into account all of the trends and statistics of the new economy, there will be several imminent changes that will appreciably affect new legal careers. Most likely, firms will keep the billable hour, will move to merit-based compensation, and will likely continue to have minimal minority representation...

Unlikely Allies in Billable Hour Reform

In the wake of the current economic crisis, billable hour reform may be having its day. Sue Wang, a former associate at Latham & Watkins, was recently profiled in The Washington Post for starting a five-lawyer boutique firm that operates on a "timeshare" model. Once associated with pricey...

The billable hour: How sick is it?

The failure of the billable hour to die is back in the news. In a recent AmLaw Daily post entitled The Billable Hour Endures , former Kirkland & Ellis partner Steven Harper argued that, "Regularly over the past 20 years, optimists have declared [the billable hour's] imminent demise.....

Are Clients 'Demanding' Change?

Adam Smith, Esq. has an excellent piece this morning , based on a Legal OnRamp thread, questioning whether corporate clients are actually demanding the changes so many of us are talking about, from alternative fees/value-based billing to legal project management. Are clients really asking for efficiency...

Six steps to better budgets (Part 2 of 2)

Step 4: Look for ways to lower costs In the current competitive environment, if your budget perfectly reflects past history, it may not be low enough to win the work. For many years, there was little pressure on lawyers to lower costs or to work more efficiently. Then the economy headed south, and...

How Do You Profit Your Firm?

If Oscar Wilde's famous definition of a cynic - "someone who knows the cost of everything and the value of nothing" - is true, then many associates may need a dose of cynicism when assessing where they stand in their firms. Not the superficially cynical "why don't they appreciate...

Partners: Start Your (Marketing) Engines

According to the "Firms in Transition Survey 2011" reported on Law360 on Tuesday "unproductive and underproductive partners" (read non-rainmakers) will be cut by 20% of the law firm responding to the Altman Weil (no follow) survey this year. The good news is that the percentage...

Programs Promoting Work-Life Balance Gain Traction at Large Law Firms

Firms Find Ways to Reduce the "Motherhood Penalty" For years, the legal profession was an unforgiving black hole for women, especially for those with children. As more women graduated from law schools and landed jobs at the nation's elite law firms, they found themselves trapped in a...

The Future of the Billable Hour

"The fact that corporate law firms overwhelmingly determine the charge for their services based largely on an hourly rate multiplied by the number of hours expended is itself a puzzle which we are trying to understand in our current research." Corporate Law Firm and How Partners Split Profits...

More on the Future of the Billable Hour

In a contemporaneous but unrelated development, researchers in management science and organizational behavior had begun to tout the value of monitoring the time spent by workers in completing various routine tasks. This theory of "scientific management" was controversial, but its chief ambassador...

Increasing Billable Hour Targets: Can Higher Expectations be Sustained?

More Hours? Firms had already begun to set billable hour targets and minimum requirements for their partners and associates. [1] Conventional wisdom at the time held 1500 as the maximum number of hours lawyers could reasonably expect to bill, equating to just over 30 billable hours per week making...

Billable Hour Transforms the Legal Profession

To say that the billable hour has transformed the legal profession is no exaggeration. Though one might quibble over whether its widespread adoption triggered or merely accelerated a sea change in the way law is practiced, its effect is undeniable. But it is good or bad? Let us consider for a moment...

Lawyers: Worth Their Weight In . . . Billable Time & Contingencies?

As a law firm attorney, I was keenly aware of the negative perception of self regulated billable hours and the ever increasing billable rate. I also know that non-lawyers gasp at the idea of leaving 1/3 of any recovery money on the table in a contingency (non-billable) case, too. I sympathize with these...

The Conflicted Billable Hour

Billable hours as a Source of Conflict in Law Firms Editors note: This post is the final in a series of reports on the state of the billable hour. All of this adds up to a surprisingly stark conflicts between the interests of law firms and those of their clients. On this point, attorney and author...

An Investigation of the Billable Hour

In 2002, Justice Steven Breyer agreed with one practitioner that "the profession's obsession with billable hours is like drinking water from a fire hose, the result is that many lawyers are starting to drown." [1] The billable hour structure, prevalent at nearly every law firm, discourages...