Calling time on the billable hour

The billable hour has persisted for decades as the default way for law firms to charge clients and measure lawyer performance, but is it still a relevant model? LexisNexis investigates.

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For decades, the billable hour has been the default way that law firms charge clients and measure lawyer performance. But while buyers of legal services are increasingly calling for alternatives like fixed fees, law firms had been slow to respond…until recently.

“The billable hour has been a foundational aspect of the way professional services firms have structured themselves for such a long period of time that any pivot away from that is naturally going to take time,” said Georgia Dawson, senior partner at global law firm Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, the UK’s sixth-largest firm by revenue.

“That said, over the last 10 years there’s definitely been more of a pivot towards alternative fee arrangements and other structures, where clients are looking for more certainty of cost.”

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