Not every case is ripe for an alternative billing arrangement. Litigation is more challenging to bill on a non-hourly basis than most other matters. Defense litigation is perhaps the most challenging of all. On the plaintiff’s side, we often work on an alternative billing arrangement, sometimes a monthly flat fee and sometimes a blend of reduced hourly rate plus contingency fee. On virtually everything else, we bid projects on a flat fee defined deliverable basis. There are lots of advantages to flat fees including the fact that costs certainty allows many more clients to say “yes” to a project which they might otherwise punt or handle on their own on an hourly fee proposal.
We are constantly talking about ways to generate quality business. I stress the word quality because it means a couple of things to our firm. First, it means clients that appreciate our operation, such as our flat fee alternative billing model and use of a transparent extranet system. Second, quality refers to clients that appreciate our niche focus on particular areas of law, such as internet law and complex litigation. Finally, quality means the type of client that will want to come back and use our services when, and if, it requires legal help again.
I just finished up my first board meeting for my alma mater law school, Michigan State University College of Law. As a relatively recent graduate, it was fantastic sitting in a room full of practitioners ranging in number of years of practice from freshly admitted to the bar all the way up to those entering their fortieth year of practice. I silently concluded that there was no better way to exhibit passion and admiration for your school than to give of your time, and in most cases with these individuals, financial support as well. Ultimately, it led me to question whether or not I properly represent the school and law college that has given so much to me.
Some might call it character flaw. Others see it as a quality which makes me uniquely me.
I’ve lived life rich. I’ve lived life poor. I am here to tell you. Life is about the same at both ends of the spectrum. There is good and bad in everything. The best things in life are found in nature and they are free.
Law firms take different approaches to Internet access by their lawyers and staff. Some law firms block certain sites. Many law firms track Internet activity by their staff. All law firms battle the distractions that come with the World Wide Web.
To me, the best way to ensure continued productivity is to keep everyone motivated. The Internet provides a convenient and appropriate respite from the sometimes taxing work that law firms do. So instead of trying to monitor or limit employees' activities, law firms should simply spend more time managing projects, tasks and motivation.
Every once in a while, it is good to think about the basics. What are the processes and technologies which bring focus, productivity and quality to your service offerings?
At our firm, we have lots of technology applications and lots of processes which go with those technologies. Information overload and the distractions which technology bring are always there waiting to affect the firm’s overall performance.