Attorney Fees in a Changing World


The law practice has traditionally been driven by large firms building large pyramids of personnel who “feed” on cases so that partners’ incomes can be “leveraged” up.   This model is dead: the days of rewarding lawyers because they occupy their chairs for long periods of time are over.


Our clients are compensated for their wits, their judgment and the results they obtain. So why should lawyers be treated differently? Historically, over 50% of our engagements have been based wholly or partially on the results we have obtained for our clients. Our approach to billing is more transparent and easier to account for, aligns our interests as a firm to those of our clients and better reflects the actual value conveyed to our clients. We are flexible and base our compensation on a number of objectives identified by the client, including amount recovered, liability avoided, adherence to budget and timely resolution of the case.


Alternatives and the Sharing of Costs and Risks

Pure Contingency Fee Arrangements. We take a number of cases each year on a contingency fee basis. Because these cases require us to advance months or years of time which we could otherwise devote to billable matters, we carefully analyze contingency fee cases and look for a significant premium over relatively “unrisked” billings. We have been retained on cases in which the client advanced costs, and in others we advance the cost of litigation for the client. Our experience is that, although no one can guarantee the outcome of any particular case, both we and our clients do very well under these incentive retention agreements.

Blended or Hybrid Rates. We also handle a number of cases on a blended or hybrid basis. In these cases, we heavily discount our ordinary billable rates and receive a premium if certain objectives or financial outcomes are obtained. These premiums can either be stated as percentages of recovery or as a lump sum in the event that a specific client objective is obtained.

Fixed Fee Engagements. We may also take cases on a fixed fee basis. For example, if we undertake a case on the eve of trial and the potential client wishes to limit its exposure to trial costs, we often advocate a fixed fee arrangement. We have successfully tried cases on fixed fees that gave us and our clients a high degree of comfort and satisfaction.