This week I attended a legal education seminar about alternative legal practice models for attorneys practicing primarily business and intellectual property law. There is a growing movement of clients leaving big law firms (“Biglaw”) in favor of smaller, more flexible firms. These new firms provide clients predictable budgets while providing defect-free work product and timely delivery.
Biglaw’s revenues are driven by the billable hour, despite client’s vociferous objections. Biglaw lawyers bill in increments of six minutes, and firm overhead is often allocated to clients based on attorney time billed. The problem with the Biglaw model is that clients often do not know what their lawyer is doing for them or how much it is costing until the end of the month when they get their statement. The billable hour model is an input-driven model that leaves many clients wondering exactly how much more it is going to cost to get their work completed.
Thankfully, the legal profession (and our office) is adopting principles of project management and continuous improvement to develop an alternative model. Our firm model is based on outputs: how much we can produce in a given period. Stories of billable hour abuse are common-leading clients to assume lawyers are slow so they can make more money. At our firm, our goal is to utilize continuous improvement and be efficient, so we can serve more people.
cLue Law utilizes technology, project management and process management tools to provide high-quality legal services. We utilize online practice management software, which allows cloud storage and backup of all client documents. This allows quick retrieval of client documents when we are out of the office and action must be taken on a matter immediately.
We also apply project management principles for completion of all our legal matters. This involves: understanding and defining client objections and expectations; providing written proposals that clearly define the scope of work, costs and a schedule for completion; and weekly updates/billing so the client always knows what their lawyer is doing for them.
Additionally, we assist clients in a formal cost-benefit analysis of their matter to determine the best way to proceed at major decision points during the representation.
Our firm model and client-centered focus allows us to provide legal work that is better, faster and cheaper than the competition.