Discounted hourly rates are not alternative fees


I had to do a bit of catching up on my MCLE, so I watched a program entitled Attorney Alternative Billing Options and Their Ethical Considerations. Apart from the absence of any meaningful discussion of ethical issues, I was stunned by the speaker’s unequivocal statement that “discounted fees are a form of alternative fees.” I am appalled that any thoughtful person would encourage this pablum, which is the nicest term I can conjure. Alternative fees are based on the billable hour. Not only do discounted fees not align the economic interests of firm and client, the structure has been proven not to lower total spend. Empirically, it is no alternative at all! Shameful shilling for large law firms who want to look like players in the AFA world but do little more than adjust their bills.