I feel like billable hours discourage attorney efficiency and incentivizes folks to drag work out or take longer to complete assignments (excluding tangible due dates).

Have firms seriously considered other ways to measure productivity outside of the billable hour?

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I hear you, and agree, and also fully admit I don’t have the answer.

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Trust me, I’m not purposefully inefficient to meet my hours… I would love to work less.

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Got you and agree. But even if you were more efficient, there is no “incentive” (if you want to call it that) to continue in that direction, you know? That’s really what I’m getting at. You get the reward of more work😂

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lol

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I attended a conference some 10 years ago where all speakers preached the end of the billable hour. Clients would prefer it (especially in continental jurisdictions, ideas floated included working on retainer/flat fee basis), but lawfirms of the bigger kind still valiantly resist.

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This makes sense to me!!

Sometimes partners ask to bill less than the hours I put in. What you are describing doesn't seem very typical, since you wouldn't want to appear like you are spending too much time on tasks and overbilling.

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Understood. I’m not saying overbill, I’m moreso saying, if I’m at a .9 and I look at the doc another 5 min and it suddenly becomes a 1.0 (and do that on other matters), resulting in whatever year end number, is that really the best measure of my performance efficiency?

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I agree with OP and always charge flat fees when possible (ie, reasonably able to estimate costs). The focus is then on providing good advice and service- not over-lawyering to charge hours. Even better at my NewLaw firm (compared to BigLaw ) is that I don’t even record hours on flat fee matters as it’s unnecessary (and a great relief!).

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You must not be in biglaw lol

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The gag is… I am 🥲

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Worked a big law firm that was the “outside counsel of choice” for a big tech company that charged the firm a fixed monthly fee

Nope!

There is an incentive, hours are a guideline, you should bill more or less depending on whats reasonable.

Otherwise you get two similar matters for two diff clients one after the other and one pays way less.

Does that make sense?

Ofc its ethically complicated but it goes both ways, we cut hours when needed...

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