“The Billable Hour’s Staying Power”

One of my least favorite tasks — & I’m sure others’ as well — billing time!

"As Abraham Lincoln once said, "A lawyer’s advice is his stock in trade." That short phrase has been repeated by attorneys throughout the years and is etched on brass plaques hanging in law firms worldwide.

"Clearly, Abe knew the value of his expertise. He also was reportedly a stickler for collecting payment. If money was tight, clients might hand over a milk cow or plump hen as payment for his services.


"Livestock aside, billing schemes have become more complex as years passed. Trends continue to shift. In a highly competitive marketplace, many firms find themselves forgoing their standard billing procedures to accommodate a client’s demands for alternative billing arrangements.

"’Most firms are embracing alternative billing arrangements as an expected part of doing business these days,’ says John Marshall, a partner at Powell Goldstein in Atlanta. ‘Clients are steering more in how they want to be billed. Since a large part of keeping clients is pleasing them, it means lawyers are becoming more flexible in how they view the billing process.’

"However, as clients consider alternative billing arrangements, law firms face the economic pressure of maintaining revenue. When hourly rates begin to climb to meet law firm costs, clients look to reduce expenses. It can seem like a never-ending cycle."