Definitely Mabey

Fixed Fees does not mean Fixed Income

Let's roll further ahead to 2010 or to 2011 (whatever year your crystal ball says law firms will be pulling out of the economic downturn they are in) and I ask this simple question "What will they have learned?"

Stephen Mabey Author

Will firms be bullied into raising salaries for Associates and doing the politically popular thing rather than learning from the current situation of clients revolting on continuous rate increases; lawyer and staff layoffs; billable hour targets that do nothing to enhance the quality of the profession or the individuals; or will we say enough is enough!

Enough is enough... no young lawyer fresh out of law school is worth $200 - $300 a hour to any client on any matter. No young lawyer fresh out of law school is worth $90,000 - $100,000 and up a year. Nothing is worth what we are doing mentally or emotionally to young, or for that fact older lawyers, with targets (soft or hard) of 1,800, 2,000, 2,200 billable hours.

Nothing is worth the adolescent attitude being nurtured by the way law firms conduct themselves. Nothing is worth the unrealistic expectations created nor the cavalier handling of unmet expectations!

While history shows that an extremely bright group of individuals are capable of doing dumb
things, I remain optimistic that law firms won't immediately forget their experiences from these challenging times and immediately start down the path of creating the need for another
economic correction in the future (the magnitude and length of which seems to grow each time). But I have been wrong before and will be again.

In some circles the most talked about development arising from the current economic times was not the announcement of further law firm cuts or Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer LLP's latest dust up, but Evan Chesler's war cry that "this is the time to get rid of the billable hour".

First, understand that all the concerns pointed out as the potential abuse that can arise from the billable hour as a basis of charging for legal fees are fair ones.

Secondly, some consultants have been announcing the eminent death of the billable hour for
over 15 years!

Thirdly, that every panel advocating this change has been client based, which makes you
wonder why it has not happened.

And lastly many lawyers would like to get off the billable hour treadmill.

So why has it not happened? ...

The rest of this article is available in Stephen Mabey's new Book

Book Cover - Leading and Managing a Sustainable Law Firm - Tactics & Strategies for a Rapidly Changing Profession by Stephen Mabey

Available for purchase on BookBaby.




And remember until the next column:

"A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy
enough people to make it worth the effort."


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First Published in Canadian Lawyer April 2010. Copyright © Applied Strategies Inc.

Legal Strategy Consultant