Hourly billing actually did not become of age in the legal profession until the 1950s, after a series of reports showed that firms that charged by the hour were more profitable than those that charged on the basis of the service sold. Those lawyers who kept accurate time records and billed by the hour made more money. Go figure. Here we are, 60 years later, trying to figure out if flat fees are — or can be — more profitable than the hourly billing system. The focus is shifting away from hours and cost toward value, transparency and improved collaboration between lawyer and client. With so many inherent problems with hourly billing, a good question to ask is: Why continue with it when there are other pricing options — like flat fees? While flat fees are certainly getting a lot of attention, hourly is still the preferred method of billing. But with the rise of the entrepreneur lawyer, legal technology and a more sophisticated legal consumer, flat fees may become the new normal for legal billing in the near future. If you are ready to try flat-fee billing, here are some questions to consider.Originally published April 3, 2015
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