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Alternate Fee Agreements Meet Process Improvement

Following my post on Alternative Fee Agreements for law firms and their clients I had one of those days where I wished I had never heard of the phrase. I was sitting in the middle of a flat fee project. Had I priced by the billable hour, I would be rich and retired today. Instead, my hourly rate is clocking...

Planning for “The Third Depression”

Nobel Prize laureate Paul Krugman has a very important column in today's New York Times . His title "The Third Depression," along with the thoughtful analysis that he presents, communicate a clear warning to law firms that depend heavily on clients in the United States and Europe. His...

How Should Law Firms “Gear Up” to Manage Projects Better? – A 50,000-foot View (Part 1 of 2)

This two-part series was written by LegalBizDev Principal Steve Barrett , former CMO at Drinker Biddle. It is based on an article that will appear in Of Counsel: The Legal Practice and Management Report. Approaching the second anniversary of the September financial markets collapse, let's look...

Should you buy Pat Lamb’s new book on alternative fees?

In my opinion, any lawyer who wants to understand the nitty gritty details of how non-hourly fees really work, from pricing to project management, should buy Pat Lamb's new book Alternative Fee Arrangements: Value Fees and the Changing Legal Market . To put this into context, people who work with...

Why project management is becoming increasingly important to law firms

This week's post comes from the preface to my new book . The preface starts by explaining how to use the book's tools and templates to improve profitability and client service, then transitions to the material below, explaining why project management is becoming a critical component of many firms'...

Still Not Offering Clients Alternative Fees? Beware!

If you still don't like the idea of offering clients alternative fees or value pricing options, then how about just letting the client decide how much they want to pay for legal services? WHAT!!!, you say. A pretty far fetched (or ludicrous) idea, right? Not so fast. CMS Cameron McKenna , a UK...

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...

Alternative fee strategies (Part 2 of 3): Conservative risk avoidance

This three-part series is reproduced from the LegalBizDev Survey of Alternative Fees , a research report based on in-depth interviews with chairmen, senior partners and C-level executives at 37 of the largest law firms in the US. More conservative firms are trying to plan bids so that every deal is...

A lockstep revival?

In recent months, a substantial part of our firm's practice has involved working with law firm partners to improve their compensation systems. (I am currently working on four such projects with firms in Latin America and Africa.) One interesting issue that has arisen in some of these projects...

Why alternative fee revenues will keep going up

In 2010, 60% of Tucker Ellis & West's revenues came from non-hourly fees. In the seven years since the firm was founded, alternative fee arrangements (AFAs) have been growing in importance year by year. The firm currently has 160 lawyers in Ohio, California and Colorado, and AFAs now account...

Engagement letters vs. statements of work

This post was written by LegalBizDev Principals Mike Egnatchik , Tom Kane , and Jim Hassett . At the beginning of a new matter, lawyers often specify its scope and fees in an engagement letter. The engagement letter is designed to clarify exactly what is included, and excluded, from a particular...

Who was the first to certify legal project managers?

There's been some controversy lately about who was the first to offer certification in legal project management. There does not seem to be any dispute about the facts. Last November, when we announced the start of our demanding Certified Legal Project Manager TM program, we called it "the...

New legal project management book published today

The material below is an excerpt from the second edition of my Legal Project Management Quick Reference Guide , which is now available. Copies have already been shipped to purchasers from firms with a total of over 16,000 lawyers, who pre-ordered the book after the initial announcement in this blog...

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...

Legal project management: Fundamental shift or flavor of the month?

Last month, the Canadian magazine Lexpert ran an article about legal project management that began by describing two partners at Stewart McKelvey who participated in our Certified Legal Project Manager TM program . The article went on to discuss other project management initiatives at such firms...

What’s different about LEGAL project management?

A few weeks ago, Three Geeks and a Law Blog ran a post entitled "Is it 'legal' project management or just project management? ," which included very interesting comments by a who's who of thought leaders in the field, including Pam Woldow , Tim Corcoran , Steven Levy , Toby...

Book review: Project management for lawyers

Buy this book. (Right after you buy mine .) Project Management for Lawyers was written by two experts in this emerging field: Barbara Boake , a senior partner at McCarthy Tetrault , and Rick Kathuria, a certified Project Management Professional at the same firm. The book draws on their experience...

An introduction to legal project management (Part 3 of 3)

This series of posts is a slightly extended version of an article that appeared in the July 2011 issue of Managing Partner magazine . To download a PDF of the published version of my article, click here. Firms that are looking for more affordable solutions sometimes start by focusing on the...

The nine most common types of alternative fees

When I interviewed chairmen, senior partners, and C-level executives from AmLaw 100 firms (in the LegalBizDev Survey of Alternative Fees ), nine types of AFAs were reported most frequently: Fee caps : In a fee cap, hourly rates are charged up to an agreed maximum amount for a particular matter...

Pricing (Part 1 of 6): What lawyers need to know and why

Some law firms are going to large companies and offering to do all their legal work for one fixed price, but the firms don't know how it will work out in the long run. I suspect in some cases it will come out really ugly. This prediction was made in 2009, by a senior partner from an AmLaw...

Pricing (Part 2 of 6): The cost-plus approach

A few weeks ago, when I gave a speech at the retreat of a 1,000 lawyer firm, a senior partner asked: "In your experience, how do large firms determine costs?" I replied: "Mostly, they don't. Until recently, most firms were making so much money they didn't need to precisely...