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Setting and Collecting Fees

Billing Methodologies Don’t Act Unethically. Lawyers Do.

October 5, 2010 by Carolyn Elefant

Look,  I’m no friend of the billable hour.   As others have emphasized far more eloquently, the billable hour measures time, not results and as such, breeds inefficiency.  Worst, for at least two decades, the billable hour fed biglaw’s associate leverage schemes which have since buckled under the weight of bloated fees and left countless young […]

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Why I Won’t Let My Clients Set My Fees: It’s Not Their Job to Do My Work

August 20, 2010 by Carolyn Elefant

Over at, one of my very favorite bloggers, Jordan Furlong, offers up a couple of innovative alternative billing ideas, including a recent and somewhat controversial initiative of 300 lawyer, UK-based CMS Cameron McKenna: letting clients decide what to pay. Though many might assume that if left to their own devices, clients would pay their […]

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Why Biglaw Billing Is Like Brown M&M’s

July 1, 2010 by Carolyn Elefant

In the context of $201 million in legal fees,  a superfluous $1600 charge — for a fancy dinner and reading a newspaper article — is chump change, something that wouldn’t have registered a blip on the client’s radar screen but for this New York Post article.  Yet while the monetary value of the $1600 charge […]

Read more Biglaw Practice and Issues 3 comments

Ideas for the Firm of the Future + One: Diversify Your Offerings

February 10, 2010 by Carolyn Elefant

Via Dan Pinnington at, I learned of Merrilyn Tarlton’s excellent article, Figuring Out Your Place in the Race (ABA Law Practice Magazine, Jan/Feb. 2010).  Recognizing that technology advancements and economic upheaval have rendered extinct the high leverage business model, Tarlton predicts that “the future of the business of law is going to be about […]

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Boutique Practice: Leaving the Land of Loss Leaders

February 4, 2010 by Carolyn Elefant

The twenty-first century version of loss leaders, big-law style, is nothing more than old fashioned price cutting wars, observes Toby Brown at Three Geeks and a Law Blog.  A loss leader refers to a pricing strategy whereby a product is advertised below cost to lure customers in the hopes of selling them more profitable, big […]

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Can you find cash for your clients?

September 15, 2009 by Carolyn Elefant

Are there cases that you’d avid to handle but your client can’t pay your fees?  Before you send the client packing, consider whether there are ways to cover the costs of the case. I’m not talking about litigation finance companies which can fund personal injury matters but come with their own set of perils.  However, […]

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What Does the “Good Enough” Phenomenon Mean for Solos?

September 1, 2009 by Carolyn Elefant

There’s been a discernible silence in the legal blogosphere over Robert Capps’ recent article, The Good Enough Revolution:  When Cheap and Simple Is Just Fine from  Perhaps it’s because uber-trendspotter Jordan Furlong wrote about the Good Enough trend a full year ago and the topic is already yesterday’s news.  More likely, lawyers haven’t been […]

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Jet Blue Be Nimble…But Can You?

August 19, 2009 by Carolyn Elefant

By now, you’ve probably read about renegade airline Jet Blue‘s unlimited travel pass that allows customers to fly free between any of the airline’s 56 national or international destinations as many times as they want between September 8 and October 8, 2009.   Naturally, some deride the offer as a gimmick for JetBlue to make more […]

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Why Is the Illinois Bar Advising Lawyers to Look Stupid By Admitting That They Can’t Estimate Fees?

August 4, 2009 by Carolyn Elefant

Via Illinois solo Peter Olson’s blog, Solo In Chicago, I came across this post on fee agreement essentials which Olson extracted from an Illinois State Bar Association newsletter.  Since my readers frequently ask about fee agreements, I was initially excited to discover a new resource.  But my delight soon turned to horror when I read the […]

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Should You Charge for, Or Mark Up the Costs of Legal Research?

May 17, 2009 by Carolyn Elefant

Over at my Legal Blogwatch beat, I posted about an ongoing lawsuit against biglaw firm Chadbourne Park, alleging that Chadbourne wrongfully billed the client $20,000 for online research services when the actual cost to the firm was only around $5000.   The suit alleges that the firm engaged in deceptive trade practices in violation of state […]

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