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Are There Some Practice Areas That Demand Billable Hours?

There's lots of talk about moving to billing alternatives to the billable hour.  Is it possible, however, that certain practice areas demand hourly billing?  That's what some law firms are saying about SOX compliance matters, according to this post by Rees Morrison.  Morrison quotes from a speech he recently heard from a law firm managing partner on the firm's billing practices in the post-Enron era:

“In the aftermath of all the corporate financial and governance scandals, company managers and lawyers are even more reluctant to limit law firms. If a firm recommends that something be looked at or thought about, given the recent parade of CEOs to prison, no one wants to rein in the firm. Their looking or thinking is best done on hourly rates, or there is a latent concern that firms on a fixed fee will not do something that a later investigation will find should have been done.”

Morrison finds some validity to this position, but then he comes to his senses with this conclusion:

"But I still rebel from the notion that it makes business sense to encourage a policy of leave-no-stone unbilled. That’s abdication of in-house counsel’s responsibility of stewardship."

Though I take Morrison's point one step further:  Seems that a no-holds-barred approach to legal practice without ever taking cost into account (or at least advising clients of the costs and benefits of a less vigorous approach) represents an abdication of outside counsel's professional responsibility as well.

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on June 5, 2006 at 08:14 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)

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