Virtually any upside to the recent monetary downturn is that many previously accepted business models are being uncovered just as need of considerable reinvention or even total elimination. The billable hour/leverage practice model for legal services is one of these increasingly maligned business models, and is now appearing to be in danger of ending up in the dustbin of history. Specifically, even those who benefit handsomely from the billable hour, including the Cravath firm’s many hundreds of dollars per hour lawyers, can now appreciate the important irrationality of charging a client for time put in rather than value provided. This kind of should signal that change is in the air. Rhiwbina
Notwithstanding the growing chat about the advantages of alternative client service models, I fear that the majority of IP rules businesses will either try to ignore the desire for change or will respond by providing only incremental modifications with their existing methods of providing legal services to their clients. As someone with extensive experience dealing with IP lawyers, I believe that, unfortunately, the conservative mother nature of most IP lawyers means that IP organizations will likely lag lurking behind in client service improvements. Thus, I am of the view that many prestigious and historically highly profitable IP law organizations will in the not far off future cease to are present.
I reach this summary therefore of varied salient encounters. In one of the, several years ago, I contacted a managing partner of a well-known IP legislation firm with ideas of how to decrease the number of legal professional several hours expended on client concerns. At that time, the firm was beginning to experience considerable push back again from clients about the expense of routine legal services. We noted to the controlling partner that he could lower the cost non-substantive e. g., administrative customer IP matters, by determining such tasks to lower billing paralegals. His response to this idea: “If paralegals did the effort, what would the 1st and 2nd year associates do? ”
Of course, the central premise of the managing partner’s response was that so that the things of the firm’s billable hour/leverage partner model turning smoothly, he needed to keep the young acquaintances busy billing by the hour. The present paradigm of his law practice required that it keep hiring acquaintances to increase partner influence and ensure that they proficiently billed clients every hour, with a significant portion of each associate’s billed time directly starting the partner’s pockets. Overlooked of this business model was perhaps the clients’ best interests were properly dished up by the model that best served what the law states business partnership.
Clearly, this legislation firm was not well managed, which might provide as an excuse for the managing partner’s self-serving perspective on client IP legal services. However, my experience as a business buyer of IP legal services further revealed that the billable hour/leverage spouse business model was an arrangement that frequently lace the client–which was now me–after the law business’s interests.
As an under one building counsel spending several $100K’s per year for legal services at a quantity of respected IP businesses, I constantly felt that when I called outdoors counsel for assistance the first thought that jumped into the lawyer’s brain was “So glad the lady called–I wonder how much work this call is going to lead to? ” More often than not, I acquired the sense that my outside IP legal professionals viewed my legal concerns as problems for them to solve for each hour basis, not as problems that might affect the profits of the company for which I worked. The big difference is subtle, but critical: the context of the former is legal professional as a service provider, although these is legal professional as a company partner.