Posted by Courtney Sapire
Alternative fees are certainly caught on, and may end up choking out the billable hour. It’s almost uncontroverted that law firms will have a radically different billing structure 10 years from now, if not five.
What do clients want? They want their outside counsel to be accountable like other businesses: with legal budgets and project costs that don’t get exceeded. If legal fees go over the estimate, the firm absorbs the cost overrun – not the client. This is simply project management, or rather legal spend management, and requires that firms develop reliable forecasting tools, maintain cost accountability, reward efficient problem resolution , create best practices for streamlining the process of legal work, and establish relationships with clients that lead to open and honest communication. Clients must operate within these parameters, so why shouldn’t their service providers operate the same way?
The recent economic crisis may have provided the traction to deliver the changes that clients want, bringing about scrutiny of the fundamental aspects of the practice of law. As Hildebrandt International legal consultant Joel Henning said in an interview with Inside Counsel, “A crisis is a terrible thing to waste.”