Alternative Fee Arrangements

Thanks to the economy, the legal industry has changed. It’s a sink-or-swim world out there, and law firms are rapidly increasing their use of modern technology to assist them when it comes to working more efficiently and reducing spending.

A surefire way to accomplish both goals is by taking advantage of alternative fee arrangements. But what can your firm to do to change the way it bills? Are there any strategies that are actually effective?

Check out this video from Thomson Reuters to hear top attorneys explain how the new economy has changed the established billing model, and to learn how they make alternative fee arrangements work, particularly with the help of WestlawNext.

What are you waiting for? Sign up and watch the video now.

We all know the legal industry is changing. It’s a sink-or-swim world, so law firms simply have to use modern technology to help them work more efficiently and reduce spending.

One way to do that is by taking advantage of alternative fee arrangements. But the real question is: what strategies — that actually work — can you and your firm use to change the way you bill?

Check out this video from Thomson Reuters to hear top attorneys explain how exactly the new economy has changed the established billing model, and to learn how they make alternative fee arrangements work, particularly with the help of WestlawNext.

What are you waiting for? Sign up and watch the video now.

Meet the official Olympic legal team.

* So, apparently law schools are admitting pretty much EVERYONE now. Because it’s all about the Benjamins, baby. [The Legal Whiteboard]

* The most fascinating New York real estate cases of the 21st century. Because home is where your heart — and assets — are. [Commercial Observer]

* Dewey want to offer former partners more money so they’ll agree to the proposed settlement? Yes, yes we do. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Apple v. Samsung was back in court today. Check out this live blog to stay up to speed. [Mercury News]

* An insightful piece giving pros and cons in the ol’ alternative fee arrangement debate. [InsideCounsel]

* Want to work at the official law firm for the Olympics? Be prepared to round up Porta Potties and protect endangered newts. Hmm, maybe you should just stick to doc review. [Bloomberg]

* Elie Mystal’s No.1 fan. Awww. [Law and More]

* Dewey know how many professional firms have been allowed to stay on as advisers for the largest law firm bankruptcy in U.S. history? Six out of nine firms were permitted to continue services, but Proskauer wasn’t one of them. [Am Law Daily (sub. req.)]

* In other defunct firm news, Al Togut will be presenting Dewey & LeBoeuf’s former partners with a proposed settlement on Wednesday. You’ve been warned: prepare yourselves for some Biglaw-style bitching. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* Despite reports of the billable hour going the way of the dodo bird, it looks like they’re here to stay. Right now, corporate law departments are still much more excited about alternative billing arrangements than law firms. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Judge Sam Sparks, the King of Benchslaps, dismissed Lance Armstrong’s lawsuit against the USADA in record time. That ruling came too quickly — guess it’s time to investigate judicial doping. [New York Times]

* Marc Dreier’s son, Spencer Dreier, is representing himself pro se in a defamation suit against his former college roommate. Looks like Daddy couldn’t spring for his kid’s lawyer while he was in the clink. [Bloomberg]

* A California woman claims that the Food and Drug Administration’s methods regarding sperm donations are unconstitutional. Why should she have to go to an intermediary to get sperminated? [Huffington Post]

* Do you smell what The Rock is cooking? It’s not exactly something to be proud of. Actor Dwayne Johnson is listed as a “co-conspirator” in a $1.8M fraud lawsuit that’s been filed by a South Florida family. [NBC Miami]

There are firms that won’t do it at all, and God bless them if they can get away with that in this environment. Any law firm leader today who thinks they can do 100 percent of work on billable hours forever into the future is not going to have a law firm for very long.

Robert Lipstein, a partner at Crowell & Moring, explaining the shift toward alternative fee arrangements within the legal industry.

Apparently Google thinks this Mob Wife is a 'cheap hooker.' If nothing else, she totally dresses like one.

* The harsh realities of post-recession practice: will Biglaw leaders have to resort to alternative billing practices in order to survive? Well, they better, or else they’re “not going to have a law firm for very long.” [Washington Post]

* I don’t think “secret service” means what you think it means. Listen up, agents, prostitution might be legal in much of Columbia, but it makes America look bad when you can’t afford a $47 hooker. [New York Post]

* Jessica Recksiedler, the judge assigned to oversee George Zimmerman’s case, may have a conflict of interest thanks to her husband. Somebody’s getting banished from the bedroom this week. [Bloomberg]

* Law firms with ties to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie have seen record profits compared to their take under Jon Corzine’s rule. That said, even if he called them “idiots,” it was totally worth it. [Star-Ledger]

* UMass Law is being reviewed for accreditation by the American Bar Association, and opponents are throwing some major shade. As if Dean Ward’s scandalous resignation wasn’t enough. [South Coast Today]

* Is this house haunted as a matter of law? That’s what this New Jersey couple is hoping that a judge will say about their rental home. Hey, it wouldn’t be the first time it’s happened in the tri-state area. [ABC News]

* The billable hour may be far from dead, but last year, 61% of general counsel worked out alternative fee arrangements with outside counsel, including counsel from elite (read: Biglaw) firms. [Wall Street Journal]

* Dewey need to take lessons on revenge from this firm? John Altorelli, the D&L defector who spilled all the beans to the Am Law Daily, was blasted on Page Six this weekend. More on this to come later today. [New York Post]

* CHECK YOU LATERALS: recent Quinn Emanuel hires William Burck, Paul Brinkman, and Andrew Schapiro, as well as name partner John Quinn, have entered appearances on behalf of Megaupload. [Am Law Daily]

* Copyright infringement suits over porn downloading involving some 3,500 defendants were dismissed because the plaintiffs’ attorney, Terik Hasmi, couldn’t get it in legally in Florida. [National Law Journal]

* In England, there’s no such thing as a no-fault divorce, but instead, you can get one for “unreasonable behavior” — behavior like malicious service of tuna casserole, and speaking only in Klingon. [New York Times]

* This gives “I’m a Slave 4 U” some new meaning. Britney Spears’s fiancé, Jason Trawick, is trying to start their impending rocky marriage off on the right foot. He’ll soon be her co-conservator. [New York Daily News]

Ah, nothing brings around the lawyers of today like the talk of money. One of the most popular Google searches by law students and lawyers is “how to make money as a lawyer.” I rarely see searches for “how to cross examine the expert witness,” or “building a reputation, one case at a time.”

It’s all about the cash.

So here it is, here’s your red meat:

Charging “what everyone else charges” is for losers.

Good clients know you get what you pay for. Cheap, annoying, time-sucking, Bar-complaint-filing clients try to own someone for nothing. If you want the same clients everyone else has, charge the same legal fees. You can be Wal-Mart, or you can be Saks. More people shop at Wal-Mart, but people looking for quality shop at Saks, and they know the difference. They go in, they see something they want, and pay for it (without a payment plan). (And don’t tell me “credit cards are payment plans.” The seller gets the full amount, the buyer makes payments to the bank.) Saks doesn’t have “low prices,” and customers aren’t going there for low prices. They’re looking for quality. Price is secondary….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Practice: Setting, Earning, and Keeping Fees in Small Law Firms”

I won’t say whether I actually heard these conversations or I just dreamt them.

First: The head of the business unit confronted with a new litigation matter:

“This is an outrage! How could they have accused us of this? We want to fight! Fight! Fight!”

“The defense costs will be charged to your business unit, which will reduce your bonus pool.”

“Settle!”

Second: One partner at a law firm — who wants to visit a client, make a presentation, and take the client to dinner — to a second partner — who is the relationship lawyer for the client:

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Inside Straight: Creating The Wrong Incentives”

Tom Wallerstein

A general counsel recently asked me, “Why should my company risk hiring a lesser-known, small firm?”

I told him that it shouldn’t. I don’t think any company should unnecessarily “risk” its business without good reason. I’ll be the first to admit that there are some matters that simply demand big firm attention.

But I also told the GC that there were many matters that I thought my smaller firm could handle just as well as could a big firm, and with cost savings that would be relatively significant given the amount at stake.

I wouldn’t ask someone to hire me if I thought that doing so was risky for them. A client should not have to choose to lose or win; it needs to make sure the small-firm attorneys have the necessary skill and experience. But with that caveat, some matters are particularly well suited for boutique treatment.

Assuming a client can afford to hire a Biglaw firm for a particular matter, why might it consider a small firm or boutique — beyond the obvious lower cost?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “From Biglaw to Boutique: Which is Better for Clients?”

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