Attorney/Client » You Have To Kill It With a Stick

You Have To Kill It With a Stick

Retro drawing of school master raising a stick, about to spank a school boy.

December 12, 2022

In-House attorneys and law firms agree that the billable hour has outlived its usefulness, if it ever had any, but it keeps on shambling through the door like a zombie. At a recent Legal Marketing Association Conference in Canada, Shara Roy, chief legal counsel at Ernst & Young, and Christelle Gedeon, chief legal officer at Canopy Growth, discussed their expectations of outside counsel. “The billable hour is a terrible way to live your life as a lawyer,” said Roy. “It creates so many perverse incentives, and it really holds back the profession.” Gedeon noted the odd way that the relationship between in-house counsel and their law firm partners is often lost when they try to agree on alternative fee arrangements. “I find that law firms generally approach us with a deal or a flat rate on a certain service, but the reality is, if you’ve got the full spectrum and visibility into our business, you get far more money overall without that sort of siphoned fee structure,” she said. Roy added that she’d like to have the kind of strategic relationship with counsel that allows for talking about a problem without expecting a bill. “Everybody wants that new client and that origination credit, but the best lawyers and the best firms really focus on their existing clients. The ones who pay their bills on time,” she said.

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