Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Boo to Billable Hours

Posted by Jeff Lipshaw

Appellate lawyer and author John Derrick has asked us to put in a link to his book Boo to Billable Hours: A Lawyer's Guide to Better Billing, the contents of which are available on his website for free.  We don't usually do commercial endorsements, but, as far as I can tell, free in this case means free.  So why not?

Here's the blurb:

THE BILLABLE HOUR dominates the legal profession, but is gradually eating away at its soul. It chills the attorney-client relationship. It penalizes efficient lawyers, while rewarding plodding ones. It leads to arbitrary, irrational, and suspect results, in which time is distorted and sometimes invented. It disconnects the amount that is charged from the value delivered. And it fails to produce what it promises, transparency. Its effects are all the worse in law-firm pyramids that impose excessive billing requirements. This straight-talking book critically dissects the practice of billing by the hour, examining how time is actually recorded in a variety of contexts that raise ethical as well as practical concerns. The book is not all about criticism. It also advocates alternatives that shift the focus away from time expended and onto value delivered.

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One of the big reasons to do a flat fee structure - honesty. The client knows how much they are going to pay and the attorney knows what is expected of him/her. It can't be done in all cases, because sometimes, you really don't know how long it will take (e.g. dealing with an adversary). From an attorney's perspective, there's also much less arguments about the final bill when you do a flat rate, e.g. next to none.

Posted by: Michael Feigin, Patent & Trademark Attorney | Sep 16, 2009 12:35:12 PM

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