This was the easiest breakup letter I had to write, and I have absolutely no regrets.
I still remember that day. It was the day that I decided to walk away from comfort, security, and tradition. It was the day that I decided my law firm would not run on hourly billing. To be honest as dramatic as that sounds (or anticlimactic) it was the easiest decision that I have ever made in my professional career.
Change is imminent because clients are demanding it! The hourly fee must go.
“When I set out to create this law firm I knew that I needed to disrupt the industry. The thought of that still makes me smile because it also happened to be something that I wanted to do. For too long the business of law (law firms) were stagnant, uninspired, and lacked innovation. Harsh criticism I know, but not false. Law firms operate today in virtually the same way that they did for the past 100 years. Many law firms (if not still the majority) continue to use paper files. Despite great strides in legal technology, many lawyers were still keen on keeping up barriers that were created between our clients that made the overall experience feel disconnected. These barriers came about because of lack of innovation and it is time to tear them down. The biggest culprit and first on the execution block ... Hourly Billing."
Virtually everyone hates hourly billing. Yes even attorneys hate them. Clients hate them because every communication that they have is charged by the minute. Attorney's hate them because of weekly billing quotas they must meet and the tedious task of keeping track of your entire life in 6 minute increments. Generally the only people who still like hourly billing are the partners and managing partners that reap the rewards. Since everyone hates them, and they are by far the biggest obstacle to bringing back the relationship to the legal profession, we got rid of them. We wanted our fees to be based off of a single principle . . . your legal bill should never be a surprise!”
Fixed fees and alternative billing methods are the way of the future.
I wanted a firm that created lasting relationships with our clients, as opposed to looking at them as a series of one time transactions. So I decided to change it and adopted transparent billing practices by grouping our commonly used services into legal packages. Each one of these packages has a set fee range that in most situations can be relied upon. This seemingly small shift toward "fixed-fee" billing has completely changed the game and has allowed us to establish a level of communication and transparency that simply wasn't possible (or too expensive) to accomplish before. It is because the quality of the relationships with our clients that we have, I can say . . .
Goodbye, hourly billing. You will not be missed.