Time to Cut Free of the Billable Hour

All across America law firms are scrambling to retain clients in a market that now favors the consumer. Clients have more choices these days with the pace of bar admissions outstripping the demand for lawyers.

A growing number of businesses are no longer willing to be held captive to the traditional billable hour law practice model. Some attorneys, mostly in larger metropolitan areas, are developing alternative practices that do away with extravagant downtown offices and senior partner dividends. They recognize that today’s Client is more willing to pay for actual legal work than the glitz of a prestigious law firm.

Similarly, many highly skilled attorneys are fed up with employment requirements that they meet unrealistic billable hour quotas in order to pay for extravagant offices and senior partner dividends. More lawyers are now opting for a better work-life balance outside the law firm mill.

Some of these alternative practice models were first developed in foreign jurisdictions including Australia, the U.K., and Singapore. One highly successful business model first piloted in Great Britain involves lawyer secondment.

The term “secondment” first came to use in the British military when an officer in one regiment would be embedded in another regiment on assignment for a limited duration. In business, it refers to placing a professional from one business in another business to perform an assignment for a limited time and set cost.

Secondment of lawyers spread from England to Australia, Singapore, Germany, and more recently the United States. By using a seconded attorney business can avoid the payroll expenses of a permanent employee while having the advantage of working closely with in-house counsel. Because prices are fixed legal fees can be accurately forecasted.

A seconded attorney can be a powerful inhouse resource for day to day operations, development of policies and procedures, corporate compliance, litigation, commercial risk mitigation, and special projects such as transactions, mergers and acquisitions.

InSource Law encourages members of the legal profession to continue developing alternative practice models that deliver better value to the client and greater career satisfaction to the attorney.


Kevin Walsh

Lead Attorney & Owner

1Source Law LLC

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