Case For Fixed Legal Fees
The case of DLA Piper having been well and truly exposed for ‘churning’ files has been reported widely.
In that case, private emails between colleagues, suggesting that billable time be added to a client file, and that the firm’s appetite for costs knew no bounds, have been exposed in a costs dispute. For most lawyers this is cringingly embarrassing. That is, the exposure.
There could not be a lawyer alive who bills by the hour and has not felt the pressure to churn, been aware of the firm’s expectation or acceptance of it, or done it themselves. It is easy to criticise the individuals, but it is the culture of the firm that allows the practice to occur. If promotion and partnership are based on earnings, and billing expectations cannot realistically be achieved without fraudulently billing hours or sleeping at the office, is any of this a surprise?
Billable hours costing has no connection with quality
Billing by the hour makes the internal accounting of the firm much easier. It makes the life of the lawyers hell, and it completely ignores the needs of the client, and the value of the service being provided. In my opinion, billable hours costing has no connection with quality, integrity, value or accountability. It is intimately connected with the desire of Big Law to earn incredible incomes for its owners, and incredible incomes are certainly earned by many partners in law firms.
It is time that clients simply refuse to be billed by the hour. Value pricing or fixed fee pricing are alternatives, and if not offered by a firm already, then there is always a first time.
For an agreed legal fee, contact Marguerite Picard, Family and Divorce Lawyer now.