During Jackson Lewis’ annual corporate counsel conference, as reported in The National Law Journal and on Law.com’s Small Firm Business, alternative fees are “putting down deep roots.”

This got my attention, because although there has been much written about the subject including on this blog, it hasn’t seemed that alternative fees were catching on all that quickly. Percentages of law firm fees, other than the billable hour, have ranged from as low as 2% to as much as 20% over the next ten years.

Accordingly, the panel on “The Death of the Billable Hour?” at the Jackson Lewis conference struck me as particularly interesting based on the report that “many companies and law firms now report that as much as 40 percent of their work is billed on alternate billing arrangement that include flat fees, phased billing and contingencies.” That comment was attributed to Michael Roster, chair of the Association of Corporate Counsel’s Value Challenge. If anyone should be getting accurate percentages, it seems to me that would be the ACC.

So, if that percentage is attributable NOW to value billing, what can we really expect in ten years? And, if it is only going to increase, there are two points I’d like to make:

  1. Don’t get left behind. Make sure your business development efforts include offering value billing asap; and
  2. Start looking into project management trainings also asap, so that your firm is managing its matters efficiently enough to ensure that alternative fees will actually work in your firm. For more on that, take a look at my post of last week on what my colleague Jim Hassett over at LegalBizDev is doing and written on project management.