The hourly billing system is built on the “trust me” model. The clear incentive is to bill as many hours as possible, which is never in the clients interest. Law firms are designed from the top down to add as many workers as possible. Those workers have to be kept busy. Minimum billable hour expectations or mandates are put in place. The unstated premise between the law firm and the client is “trust me, I wont let my self interest in business model get in the way of making sure we identify and meet your goals.” Of course, one of those goals would be to achieve a solution as quickly and cost effectively as possible. “Trust me, we won’t let our business model and incentives get in the way of our ethical duty to do right by you.”
I do not believe in any economic model that contains a “trust me” component. There is no need for trust in capitalism. Capitalism is all about incentives. Isn’t it time that we built an economic model for lawyers that aligns the clients goals with the attorney’s incentives?