You can take the lawyer out of the law firm, but can you take the law firm out of the lawyer?

Take a look at this recent NYTimes piece, reporting that many attorneys are leaving big law firms and opening up practices of their own. Not sure this really qualifies as news at this point, but okay…

To me, the more interesting issue is how many of these newly self-employed attorneys will perpetuate the standard hourly-billing models of the typical law firm and how many will opt instead for more client-friendly, risk-sharing business models, and adopt the lean business processes that support them. While many attorneys are becoming more entrepreneurial by necessity, the truth is that most lawyers are not terribly entrepreneurial or risk-tolerant by nature. 

An entrepreneurial person at heart, I also had the good fortune to spend my 1995 summer at Bartlit, Beck, Herman, Palenchar & Scott — a Chicago spinoff from Kirkland & Ellis made up of attorneys who are not only some of the best trial lawyers in the country, but also, innovators in the use of alternative fee structures. Bartlett Beck was fervent about the advantages of non-hourly billing for attorneys and clients alike. It was an eye-opening experience for a young attorney, and it has helped shape the way that I view client service.

GoodCounsel handles a significant portion of its matters on a fixed-fee basis, and while a one-price-fits-all approach can be challenging in a legal practice, stay tuned for much greater price transparency in the weeks ahead.


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