Friday, April 11, 2008

Escape the Billable Hour Trap for Good, and Win $500

I must give a heartfelt thank you to Jeff Bleich, President of the State Bar of California, for his recent article “Escaping the billable hours trap.” Several quotes are worth repeating here:

“We all know about the lifestyle burden that billable hours places on lawyers, but on a deeper level, a billable hours system is corrupting to our profession in both obvious and more subtle ways. . . .

“[the billable hour system] has cast an ethical cloud over the work we do, demoralized lawyers and degraded our efforts to train lawyers to solve problems.”

“[A]s a profession, we need to start finding billing methods that will reduce distrust and damage to our client relationships, that will refocus young lawyers on being problem-solvers again, and that will remind us of – rather than distract us from – why we are lawyers in the first place.”

The entire article, which is a very good read, can be accessed here:

Mr. Bleich’s observations are not new. The legal profession has given lip-service to the problems inherent in a law firm business model that rewards inefficiency for years, but very little change has been made. So, if law firms are unwilling to lead the action to change, perhaps it is the freelance legal professionals that should make the first step.

Let’s stop talking about escaping “the billable hour trap” by actually opening the door and walking out. FreelanceLaw, Inc., a sponsor of NAFLP, has announced a contest related to this subject. FreelanceLaw will pay $500 to the freelance legal professional who produces the best marketing brochure for their services that features non-billable-hour pricing to potential law firm or inhouse counsel clients. The requirements are as follows:

1. The entrant must be a member of NAFLP.
2. The marketing brochure must be limited in size to both sides of an 8-1/2” x 11” page or the equivalent in an electronic format (i.e. for email advertising).
3. The brochure must contain an explanation of the benefits of the freelancer’s pricing structure over billable hours, and sample fees.
4. Submissions must be forwarded to on or before June 16, 2008.
5. Submissions will be judged on (1) professional appearance; (2) creativity of billing structure(s); (3) likelihood of commercial success. The winner will be announced on July 4, 2008, and the winner’s brochure will be featured in this blog and in an NAFLP press release.

This is an excellent opportunity for freelancers to take a significant step to make a positive change in the legal profession. I look forward to seeing your ideas!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This is a great idea. I think a lot of really talented legal professionals just need a little guidance in marketing.