“Alternative” Pricing in a Billable Hour World

by Donna Seyle - Law Practice Strategy
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As more and more attorneys migrate from their unemployed status to solo or small firm practices, and law clients clamor that they just won’t pay it anymore, the business of law has become yet another subject they didn’t teach you in law school. Suddenly, new and newly unemployed attorneys are faced not just with acquiring the skills of the practice, but also with the economic realities of maintaining a successful business. And let’s face it, being trained to think like a lawyer simply does not intersect with the attributes of a successful business person trained to forecast market vagaries and position themselves to respond accordingly.

Among many of those vagaries is the advent of a market demanding changes in lawyer’s traditional billing structure, commonly known as the billable hour. For the past 60 years, the only variation to the billable hour was a contingency fee arrangement, employed almost exclusively in personal injury cases. Now, clients are refusing to agree to open-ended hourly billing at astronomical rates (can you imagine?). Even in the face of this uproar, big law has made it clear they intent to increase their hourly fees, leading to what Jordan Furlong calls The Boutique Exodus....

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