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Labor & Employment Law: The Law Planet Blog
Heresy In The Practice Of Law - No Billable Hours!
By Dobin & Jenks
A recent blurb in the ABA Journal weekly newsletter struck a chord with me. A law firm in Boston has banned billable hours. What's next, not billing for faxes and copies? How will a firm ever make money without billing its clients in 360-second increments?
I like billing. It puts food on my family's table and keeps the lights on here at the office. On the other hand, I am terrible at keeping time records. I'm not inaccurate about it, it's just that I would prefer to do things other than record my time, particularly in those 360-second increments. Flat fee billing avoids the possibility of under-billing, which is my "problem" (I should be in a "meeting" - My name is Marc and I underbill. The crowd responds - Hello, Marc.)
I have worked on flat fee "projects" in the past and have been happy with them. It really enables the client to control their legal expenses and enables the lawyer to do the work without regard to cost to the client. There are any number of hourly cases I have settled where I knew that the settlement resulted in the disappearance of piles of anticipated billable hours.
But what if we had a flat fee environment? What if we had a menu for each case where a case of a certain size and type is handled for a fixed price, regardless of the timing of its resolution, either through settlement or adversary proceeding? What if cats and dogs could live together in harmony? Maybe the world is flat?
I like flat fee billing. I'm going to see if it can work for us. And when you see a cat grooming a dog, you'll know that flat fees are taking over the world.
That's the view from The Law Planet - Jupiter, Florida.
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