In a Law Week speech to the Perth Press Club on May 17, 2010, Western Australia Chief Justice Wayne Martin called for a shake up of the practice of hourly billing. He stated that “there are serious problems with time billing in that it rewards inefficiency, encourages lawyers to spend more time, limits customer satisfaction and does not focus on outcomes.” You may view a news story about the speech here.

Chinn & Associates saw the serious problems with hourly billing back in 2005 when we abandoned hourly billing and adopted “value pricing.” The movement away from hourly billing has been led by the American Bar Association ABA Law Practice Management Section Task Force on Alternative Billing Methods in 1989. This Task Force published Beyond the Billable Hour: An Anthology of Alternative Billing Methods. In 2002, the ABA Commission on Billable Hours published its report.

The report contained a Preface by ABA President Robert E. Hirshon which discussed the many reasons for abandoning the billable hour. In the first sentence of his Preface, he opines that “many of the legal professions contemporary woes intersect at the billable hour.” He writes that the billable hour is responsible for a lack of balance in lawyers lives, negative impacts on lawyers families, loss of professional mentoring, decrease in lawyer service, less collegiality and a loss of focus on efficiency.

There have been three important ABA publications on alternative billing: Beyond the Billable Hour: An Anthology of Alternative Billing Methods, Winning Alternatives to the Billable Hour, and Billing Innovations: New Win-Win Ways to End Hourly Billing.

The ABA has recently stepped up its efforts to promote the concept of value pricing. The ABA Journal from August, 2007, was entitled, “The Billable Hour Must Die.” It featured an article with the same title by Chicago author and lawyer, Scott Turow, in which he concluded:
“If I had only one wish for our profession from the proverbial genie, I would want us to move toward something better than dollars times hours.”
Chinn & Associates works hard to create customized, fixed and capped prices for its clients which are related to the value of the project to the client and the resources of the client and resources necessary to deliver superior legal product which is “outcome and service oriented” instead of time oriented.
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