The Wall Street Journal recently reported on the increasing number of BigLaw partners charging more than $1000 per hour. My thoughts on hourly billing are well know, but the criticism of these rates as excessive misses the point entirely. An hour of work from a lawyer billing at this level may well provide far greater than $1000 of value. The point isn’t simply the number of dollars per hour. It is about the use of time as a surrogate for value. A minute of time to avoid a lawsuit is worth millions whereas millions spent defending a lawsuit only to settle at a high number may contribute nothing of value. And a smart client should be willing to pay much more than a minute’s worth of time for the great advice, but at the same time find it unnecessary to pay for time that yields not value to the outcome.
Focus on what’s important.