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Ed Kless

Great post, when are the Tom "Duh" Keans of the world going to realize that hourly billing is the "alternative billing" in the real world! We have 150 years of economic thinking on our side.

Mike Grodhaus

Jay, I didn't realize you spoke Canadian. Thank you for the kind comments about my blog. You're on my blogroll, too.

Ed Kless' previous comment is right on the money: what you and I now call "alternative fees" was the norm in the legal profession in this country until the late 1950s-early 1960s when billable hours became the rage. So perhaps we should label billable hours as the true "alternative fee."

James Mason


I agree wholeheartedly about both the "alternative billing" thing (alternative lifestyles? what?), and the timesheet issue as well, but there's something that I think we tend to gloss over that's even more important, particularly with respect to the fact that YOU, and your firm, seem to "get it," without having had to be told.

I'm talking, of course, about the whole "Culture" thing. Even Intini, as good as his article was (is?), misses the point entirely.

You can't CHANGE culture any more than you can manage a herd of cattle, or tell your cat what to do, it's an illusion. Culture is created by all the members of an organization, and it's continually being reinvented as people come and go, and change themselves.

But as you, and other firms, law-ish or not, change the way in which they bill, other things about firm practices change too, and then, maybe, it becomes a chicken-and-egg issue. And maybe that's the problem.

Is it people who're willing to see more than the narrow-angle view that adopt value billing, and other rational rules (like NOT micromanaging time, like NOT worrying about if lawyers are working into the wee hours every night, like NOT packing lawyers into casefiles like overeager freshmen into little cars), or does the willingness to adopt value billing indicate a certain level of rationality in the first place?

I'm not sure that it matters all that much, but the question itself is fascinating.

Warm Regards,

James E. Mason
Managing Partner
Mason|McRight Legal Recruiting


Alternative fee arrangements as wonderfully displayed as an answer to the problems raised by hourly billing techniques is actually a threat to law firms as such. Who cares?
The convergence systems followed by most of the companies shows that in future work will be narrowed to a few big law firms offering AFA. Then smaller law firms will be eliminated from the whole game.
It is the most horrific threat AFA poses to the whole arena of law practicing.

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