There’s a process revolution underway in the legal marketplace, and yesterday brought two more reports of cannon fire. The ABA Journal published a primer (HT to Legal Blog Watch) by Boston lawyer Jay Shepherd on how to establish a flat-fee billing system. It’s not an airy, wouldn’t-it-be-nice piece; it’s a practical guide borne of his firm’s successful experience with abandoning hourly rates. The key step: reviewing eight years’ worth of bills to figure out exactly how much it costs the firm to complete various client tasks.
Meanwhile, Larry Bodine linked to a Forbes magazine story about FastCase, a Washington, D.C.-based company that provides access to an online, digital, searchable collection of U.S. case law at much lower costs than those charged by traditional publishing powerhouses West and Lexis. The article describes similar ventures launched by other organizations, without even getting into the Legal Information Institute collection and its offspring around the world.
So for those of you keeping score at home, here are two more things you won’t be able to build into your legal bill the way you used to:
–> the standard lawyer fuzziness around just how much it’s going to cost to do something the firm has done before; and
–> most commercial online legal research services, because the cheap or free alternatives are proliferating.
These two entries join a growing list of items law firms can no longer charge out at pricey associate rates, if they can charge them out at all: Continue Reading