Can it be the beginning of the end of the billable hour for law firms?
Take one, Big Law firm – in this case Jackson Lewis – who used to require associates to bill 1900 hours a year to make themselves liable for a bonus.
No longer. Now Jackson Lewis are looking at other, more subjective factors to assess their bills. It’s part of what they describe as an “evolutionary process”. They now look at something called “true billed value”, which requires looking at receipts But could it lead to changes on a more widespread basis among other Big and Little Law firms?
Am Law Daily wrote that as of January 1, associates at the labor and employment firm will be assessed on efficiency, client service, responsiveness, team-orientation and pro-bono commitment in an effort to align the way Jackson Lewis “deliver[s] legal services with clients’ needs,” according to firm chair Vincent Cino. (The firm’s compensation model for partners is based on revenue rather than hours.)
“The billable hour is directly opposed to the best interest of the client and to the provider of service because by its very nature it adds an artificial barrier to the accomplishment of the only real objective, which is a quality legal product for a set and expected price,” Cino says.
Cravath’s chairman Evan Chesler agrees that the billable hour should be done away with, saying it makes no sense. Just whether its replacement will be the “true billed value” or some other metric remains to be seen.