Law Firms that don't use billable hours

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etlien
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Law Firms that don't use billable hours

Postby etlien » Tue Aug 06, 2013 11:11 pm

I tried to google this, but not much came up.

I have heard of firms sometimes using alternative fee arrangements for certain practice groups, but I am interested in firms which predominantly charge clients using something other than billables, e.g. on a per deal/project basis. Do they exist/which ones are they?

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hephaestus
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Re: Law Firms that don't use billable hours

Postby hephaestus » Tue Aug 06, 2013 11:18 pm

Quinn does a lot of alternative fee arrangements. It is much more common in litigation, but I heard of a few firms using them in transactional (such as flat fee billing for a deal, like 25k for a mid sized real estate transaction or whatever). Even at firms that do, associates still keep track of billable hours for internal purposes.

anon168
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Re: Law Firms that don't use billable hours

Postby anon168 » Tue Aug 06, 2013 11:19 pm

etlien wrote:I tried to google this, but not much came up.

I have heard of firms sometimes using alternative fee arrangements for certain practice groups, but I am interested in firms which predominantly charge clients using something other than billables, e.g. on a per deal/project basis. Do they exist/which ones are they?


Yes, they're called plaintiffs-side, contingency firms.

Think places like Labaton, BLBG, RGRD, Lieff Cabraser, Philips & Cohen, Kesller Topaz, Motley Rice, etc., as well as places like Susman Godfrey, Quinn Emmanuel (sometimes) etc.

etlien
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Re: Law Firms that don't use billable hours

Postby etlien » Tue Aug 06, 2013 11:24 pm

ImNoScar wrote:Quinn does a lot of alternative fee arrangements. It is much more common in litigation, but I heard of a few firms using them in transactional (such as flat fee billing for a deal, like 25k for a mid sized real estate transaction or whatever). Even at firms that do, associates still keep track of billable hours for internal purposes.


anon168 wrote:
etlien wrote:I tried to google this, but not much came up.

I have heard of firms sometimes using alternative fee arrangements for certain practice groups, but I am interested in firms which predominantly charge clients using something other than billables, e.g. on a per deal/project basis. Do they exist/which ones are they?


Yes, they're called plaintiffs-side, contingency firms.

Think places like Labaton, BLBG, RGRD, Lieff Cabraser, Philips & Cohen, Kesller Topaz, Motley Rice, etc., as well as places like Susman Godfrey, Quinn Emmanuel (sometimes) etc.


Thanks guys. I am interested in transactional practices. Should have been more specific in OP.

ImNoScar, can you name any names? Happy to PM you if need be.

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A. Nony Mouse
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Re: Law Firms that don't use billable hours

Postby A. Nony Mouse » Tue Aug 06, 2013 11:49 pm

ImNoScar wrote:Quinn does a lot of alternative fee arrangements. It is much more common in litigation, but I heard of a few firms using them in transactional (such as flat fee billing for a deal, like 25k for a mid sized real estate transaction or whatever). Even at firms that do, associates still keep track of billable hours for internal purposes.

Yeah, OP, do you mean, which firms don't charge their clients according to hours-worked, but have alternative fee arrangements? Or do you mean, are there firms that don't track their associates' billable hours/have billable hours requirements for associates? If the latter, I'd be shocked if there are biglaw firms that don't have a billable hours target for their associates, because I don't think making alternate fee arrangements means they have different expectations for associates. But I'm not up on the fine differences between biglaw firms, so I'm happy to be convinced otherwise. Just not sure which you're asking/why.

etlien
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Re: Law Firms that don't use billable hours

Postby etlien » Wed Aug 07, 2013 12:02 am

A. Nony Mouse wrote:
ImNoScar wrote:Quinn does a lot of alternative fee arrangements. It is much more common in litigation, but I heard of a few firms using them in transactional (such as flat fee billing for a deal, like 25k for a mid sized real estate transaction or whatever). Even at firms that do, associates still keep track of billable hours for internal purposes.

Yeah, OP, do you mean, which firms don't charge their clients according to hours-worked, but have alternative fee arrangements? Or do you mean, are there firms that don't track their associates' billable hours/have billable hours requirements for associates? If the latter, I'd be shocked if there are biglaw firms that don't have a billable hours target for their associates, because I don't think making alternate fee arrangements means they have different expectations for associates. But I'm not up on the fine differences between biglaw firms, so I'm happy to be convinced otherwise. Just not sure which you're asking/why.


I meant firms that don't charge their clients according to hours worked under the assumption that they would also not track their associates hours. But you're probably right in that these firms would likely still track their associates hours. I would assume that firms that don't charge clients by the hour aren't as intense about associate hours though, so would still like to look into those firms. I am asking because I would rather work for a firm where hours isn't as big a deal. I prefer to just get my work done and go home rather than worry whether I will make my hours.

mrsmartypants
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Re: Law Firms that don't use billable hours

Postby mrsmartypants » Wed Aug 07, 2013 12:28 am

etlien wrote:I meant firms that don't charge their clients according to hours worked under the assumption that they would also not track their associates hours. But you're probably right in that these firms would likely still track their associates hours. I would assume that firms that don't charge clients by the hour aren't as intense about associate hours though, so would still like to look into those firms. I am asking because I would rather work for a firm where hours isn't as big a deal. I prefer to just get my work done and go home rather than worry whether I will make my hours.


I've worked in patent prosecution for over a decade, and fixed-fee/capped-fee matters were commonplace well before I ever started. I can't speak to how other firms in other practice areas structure their AFAs, but I would be utterly shocked (and intensely curious) if they didn't use a billable hour internally, for two reasons: (a) even if the considerable majority of a firm's work is AFA, there's almost certainly going to be the possibility of the occasional hourly engagement, and the firm needs the timekeeping and reporting infrastructure to accommodate that; and (b) more importantly, the firm needs some metric by which to judge associate efficiency, which is even more critical under an AFA--you simply can't have associates churning away arbitrary amounts of time on a fixed-fee matter, and you still need to account for the fact that experience and skill levels vary across associates.

For good or ill, the billable hour is a very concrete way of measuring the value of associate time, regardless of whether that time is ultimately made visible to the client. And for that reason, I think your theory that fixed-fee firms aren't as intense about hours is tenuous. There may be some firms who roll a fixed-fee philosophy into an overall lifestyle/culture that is more laid back than many firms. But I can tell you with certainty that fixed-fee firms can be just as much of a sweatshop as any hourly firm--at the end of the day, the less associates work (and/or the less efficiently they work), the lower the profitability of the firm.

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IAFG
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Re: Law Firms that don't use billable hours

Postby IAFG » Wed Aug 07, 2013 12:40 am

Your assumption is wrong. No.




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