find the latest legal job
Corporate Counsel and Company Secretary
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: Newcastle, Maitland & Hunter NSW
· Highly-respected, innovative and entrepreneurial Not-for-Profit · Competency based Board
View details
Chief Counsel and Company Secretary
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: Newcastle, Maitland & Hunter NSW
· Dynamic, high growth organisation · ASX listed market leader
View details
In-house Projects Lawyer | Renewables / Solar | 2-5 Years PQE
Category: Generalists - In House | Location: All Australia
· Help design the future · NASDAQ Listed
View details
Insurance Lawyer (3-5 PAE)
Category: Insurance and Superannuation Law | Location: Brisbane CBD & Inner Suburbs Brisbane QLD
· Dynamic organisation ·
View details
Legal Counsel
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: North Sydney NSW 2060
· 18 month fixed term contract · 3-5 years PQE with TMT exposure
View details
Time-billing eroding, but alternatives gathering momentum

Time-billing eroding, but alternatives gathering momentum

It's too soon to announce the death of the billable hour, but in-house lawyers are harnessing their increasing powers spun off from the GFC to negotiate, and sustain, alternative fee…

It's too soon to announce the death of the billable hour, but in-house lawyers are harnessing their increasing powers spun off from the GFC to negotiate, and sustain, alternative fee arrangements, according to a report released today by consulting group IKD.

The report, based on round table discussions with both in-house counsel and law firm participants, was undertaken by Dr Ben Tabalujan, director of IKD, and Andrew Godwin, a senior lecturer at the University of Melbourne's law school.

They said the research was carried out in response to criticism of time-billing that commonly occurs in the press, as well as the general slowdown in work at law firms which is believed to have given in-house lawyers more control in the billing negotiation process.

Godwin told Lawyers Weekly today that the study wanted to find out if the commonly aired predictions that hourly billing methods are fast disappearing are correct. "Our conclusion on that would be no - time-billing is very much here to stay," he said. "But [billing methods] are likely to be modified to take account of the fact that there is what we would describe as an irreversible trend towards alternative billing methods (ABMs)."

Meanwhile, Godwin said the research also indicated that while the GFC has highlighted the importance of debate over ABMs, such debate has been under way for some years now. "That's [the debate] now coincided with increased pressures on in-house legal departments to manage their legal spend more effectively. I think there's been particular concerns in the area of litigation and that is reflected in the comments in the recent Access to Justice report released by the Attorney-General."

He added that in-house lawyers are in a much stronger position now to negotiate fees - a position the in-house participants on the round tables said they are looking to maintain into the future.

"They are trying to imbed the right practices, if you like, and encourage law firms to be more flexible in considering alterative billing methods," said Godwin.

But Godwin did question whether time-billing had been given a bad rap simply because of certain areas of law which may have taken advantage of it: "In my view, time-billing has been somewhat of a scapegoat, and has been blamed for the increase in legal costs when, in fact, this is a trend that has emerged as a result of a much greater involvement in litigation [by organiations] and an increase in costs generally."

The report will be released at the Australian Corporate Lawyers Association's National Conference in Melbourne.

- Angela Priestley

For more analysis of this report, see next week's edition of Lawyers Weekly.

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

Time-billing eroding, but alternatives gathering momentum
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
LCA president Fiona McLeod SC
Aug 17 2017
Where social fault lines meet the justice gap in Aus
After just returning from a tour of the Northern Territory, LCA president Fiona McLeod SC speaks wit...
Marriage equality flag
Aug 17 2017
ALHR backs High Court challenge to marriage equality postal vote
Australian Lawyers for Human Rights (ALHR) has voiced its support for a constitutional challenge to ...
Give advice
Aug 17 2017
A-G issues advice on judiciary’s public presence
Commonwealth Attorney-General George Brandis QC has offered his advice on the public presence of jud...
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'...
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...
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 & ...