A blog post from the Greatest American Lawyer blog made me chuckle and it might make you think. The webinar topic was law firm profitability and GAL wanted to talk about alternatives to hourly billing. What he didn't anticipate was his unease in discussing hourly billing at all. Read his interesting post.
One of the interesting things about discussing hourly billing is how defensive some people can be regarding their status quo. One lawyer asked him how could it be ethical to have system that returned more than the lawyer's hourly rate. Think about that. That same lawyer likely wouldn't question a lawyer who had so much business that he decided to raise his hourly rate by 25%. But a system disclosed to and agreed with the client that returned 125% for an hour over what the client who opted to pay the lawyer on an hourly basis paid, well, there has got to be some ethical problem there, right? Obviously, I don't think so.
This summer, the American Bar Association published Winning Alternatives to the Billable Hour 3rd Edition by Mark Robertson and Jim Calloway. I don't know if it was modesty or oversight that kept me from mentioning it here on my blog before. I actually did think of mentioning it when I covered several other law practice management books this summer. In doing the third edition of the book we did several case studies, interviewing lawyers who had actually put alternative billing into practice. In hindsight, I am not sure how we left out GAL, but I am glad he provided us with this abbreviated case study on his blog.