Sunday, March 1, 2009

How is billable hour on the way out?

The 12 January edition of Forbes, on page 26, has a full page opinion piece written by Evan Chester, presiding partner of Cravath, Swaine & Moore. He basically argues that it is time to stop billing by the hour for legal services: "The lawyer should identify the client's objectives, measure, calculate and come back with a [fixed] price." Would this work in the patent world? (It's a rhetorical question :-)

2 comments:

neener said...

Yes, it could. If attorneys knew the approximate or average time spent on any given activity then value billing incents appropriately getting the job done for the least amount of money. If you know that a 3 count discrimination complaint is going to require about 14 hours of work and cap your fees accordingly, the client can decide before work starts whether that is appropriate and reasonable and plan for it, and if it turns out you only need 9 hours to complete the work so much the better.

Lawyers recreate the wheel for every thing for every client. It's pointless and self-defeating. All lawyers re-use and recycle only things they can remember doing. There are better ways. More efficient ways. I'm doing what I can to kill the billable hour. It incents work improperly and ends with poor results or endless duplications of work.

Kelly W. said...

Your method so far has the most common sense. For one thing it should stop the practice of billing a client for the time spent in the shower while contemplating the case.