Last week I had a post entitled “More Bad News for the Billable Hour,” where I cited a survey by Inside Counsel that reported the percentages of in-house counsel and lawyers themselves who believed that padding occurs. To restate:
- In-house Response: “Most law firms pad their bills” – 42% (24% “neutral” on question)
- Law Firm Response: “Most law firms pad their bills” – 6% (10% “neutral”)
Well, the good news is that American lawyers don’t look so bad. In the May issue of Inside Counsel, there is a sidebar entitled “Padding Problems” that reports that “Europe’s in-house counsel still widely distrust their outside firm’s billing practices, according to a survey of 2,852 lawyers conducted by The Lawyer. The results:
- “GCs who report their outside counsel have padded bills” – 73%
- “In-house counsel that believe billable-hour targets encourage padding” – 95%
- “Law firm partners that believe billable-hour targets encourage padding” – 50%
- “In-house counsel who believe project-based billing is the best alternative to the hourly rate” – 68%
WOW! Those percentages are staggering!
Since many large U.S. firms have a European presence, are they included in the survey? Is there serious concern for the integrity of our profession, whether they are or not? I think the answer is obvious.
It seems more than apparent that it’s time to start planning ahead for the inevitable move to alternative billing on a much larger scale.