find the latest legal job
Senior Associate - Litigation & Dispute Resolution
Category: Litigation and Dispute Resolution | Location: Melbourne CBD & Inner Suburbs Melbourne VIC
· Come work for a firm ranked in Lawyers Weekly Top 25 Attraction Firms
View details
Associate - Workplace Relations & Safety
Category: Industrial Relations and Employment Law | Location: Brisbane CBD & Inner Suburbs Brisbane QLD
· Employer of choice · Strong team culture
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Banking and Finance Law | Location: All Perth WA
· Freelance opportunities through Vario from Pinsent Masons
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Other | Location: All Adelaide SA
· • Qualified lawyer with a strong academic background
View details
Freelance Lawyers
Category: Other | Location: All Melbourne VIC
· • Qualified lawyer with a strong academic background
View details
End of time billing falls to general counsel

End of time billing falls to general counsel

It's been months, and in some cases years, in discussion, but the end of time-based billing may finally come to the legal profession in 2010, experts predict.

It’s been months, and in some cases years, in discussion, but the end of time-based billing may finally come to the legal profession in 2010, experts predict.

Telstra general counsel, Will Irving, has told The New Lawyer that the experience of 2009 may well force the profession’s hand when it comes to developing alternative billing arrangements.

The global financial crisis will be blamed for the change, a label many clients and law firms are likely to see as a positive.

Irving told The New Lawyer that like every area of the economy, budgets for in-house legal teams remain tight. Efficiency, he said, is now all important and getting the best value from external law firms will remain a key priority for general counsel in 2010.

“In our case, making greater use of non-hourly billing has driven considerable efficiencies and aligned internal and external lawyers,” Irving said.

The past year really secured alternative billing as an issue of key importance for the Australian legal profession, said John Chisholm, of law firm consultancy Chisholm Consulting.

“There has been quite a significant change and movement in 2009 on that value issue,” he said.

At the discussion level alternative billing has taken centre stage, said Chisholm, “and most law firms have hoped it would go away. I don’t think it has”.

In 2010 we will see corporates become more confident in using alternative fee arrangements, according to Chisholm. “It’s new for some, and for those who got used to the billable hour syndrome it’s all new.”

But he said corporates are now learning how to come to agreements with their law panels on fixed fee and other arrangements.

While some law firms have been making a name for themselves by abandoning hourly billing and instead working through different billing arrangements with clients, such as on a retainer or fixed-fee basis, until the majority of their clients demand it, many firms will not budge on it.

In a bid to reduce costs, Wal-Mart’s associate general counsel, Miguel Rivera, froze all hourly rates for 2008 by issuing a decree to all his law firms in late 2007.

In 2008, the Australian Corporate Lawyers Association conducted a survey of legal departments in Australia and New Zealand, revealing that the number one way (at 62 per cent) a law firm could improve its relationship with a client is to “be more concerned with costs”. And the recent global economic crisis has just increased the squeeze.

Meanwhile, at least one Australian law firm is charging more than $1,000 an hour for some of its partners’ advice.

To read Will Irving and John Chisholm’s views on the impact of increased regulation on general counsel, click here

Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017


End of time billing falls to general counsel
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Scales of Justice
Oct 19 2017
‘Ego status’ compelled ex-lawyer to defraud $2.97m, court told
Debarred lawyer John Gordon Bradfield told an NSW District Court that he was driven by “ego status...
Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA), Queensland’s new industrial manslaughter legislation,
Oct 19 2017
ALA welcomes ‘tough’ Qld manslaughter laws
The Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) has welcomed Queensland’s new industrial manslaughter legisl...
Legal podcasts, tune in, microphone
Oct 19 2017
Legal podcasts you have to tune in to right now
The rise of the internet has hailed in a new dawn for storytelling. Here’s our top pick of podcast...
APPOINTMENTS
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
opinion
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
Help
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...