I read with great interest an article about law firm mavericks in the Law Practice Magazine of the American Bar Association. I found the article particularly appealing having recently read the book Mavericks at Work.
One of the maverick lawyers featured is 29-year-old Christopher Marston of Exemplar Law Partners of Boston. Marsten used every penny of his personal savings to start a law firm that is turning the practice of law on its head by charging for services only on a flat fee basis. For decades law firms have talked about "getting away from the billable hour". Marsten’s firm is determined to walk the talk. One look at this firm’s Web site and you quickly realize they have a distinctive and disruptive purpose that sets them apart from their rivals.
Another Massachusetts law firm featured is ConvergentGC. The law firm operates from the premise that most entrepreneurs really need in-house counsel but few can afford it. The firm is an outside general counsel firm that essentially adds a senior-level attorney to the management staff. The firm has no hourly rates, no bills for phone calls and no bills for overhead costs such as faxes.
In my own practice I am developing the strategies implemented by these firms. I already provide outside general counsel services to certain business clients based upon a mutually agreeable fixed monthly fee. These clients receive a fixed monthly bill and do not receive bills for phone calls and overhead costs such as copying and postage. I also perform certain projects such as incorporation and LLC formation on a fixed rate and have also done so with contract review and writing. I have continued to bill hourly for litigation in the past but in 2007 these mavericks have inspired me to begin handling litigation matters on a fixed rate basis as well.
I have felt for a long time the billable hour needs to be thrown out the window. This coming year I plan on doing just that.