Yesterday, Matt Homann posted a great list on his blog, the [non]billable hour. He calls his list, "10 Rules About Hourly Billing," but I like my title better. I encourage you to read Matt's whole post, but here are some gems:
4. Sophisticated clients who insist on hourly billing do so because they’re smarter than you are, not because they want you to be paid fairly.
7. Every time your clients jokingly ask you, “Are you going to charge me for this?” they aren’t joking -- and they’ll check next month’s bill to be sure.
8. The hardest thing to measure is talent. The easiest thing to measure is time. The two have absolutely no relationship to one another. Your law firm measures talent, right?
and my personal favorite:
10. There are 1440 minutes each day. How many did you make matter? How many did you bill for? Were they the same minutes? Didn't think so.
It's time for us to reconsider all of the comfortable reasons for continuing to bill by the hour and devise alternatives that work both for lawyer and for clients. The lawyer that does so successfully will likely have an even bigger competitive edge in a difficult economy when budgeting is becoming much more popular (and necessary).