Legal Times: Does McKenna Long & Aldridge use alternative fees much?
Joanne Zimolzak: We have an entire committee devoted to alternative fee arrangements. When an alternative fee arrangement comes in, it is submitted to the committee for vetting and approval. We have done a variety of [alternative fee] arrangements. It can be a situation where you would have a 20 percent reduction in fees contingent upon a certain result and if you get the result you could get restoration of the fees and perhaps a success fee on top of that. Some of them are more of a straight discount situation. [In] another scenario you might have a certain rate up to a certain dollar amount that would be tied to your budget. And then the rate could vary from there depending on how accurate your predictions are.
LT: Would you say the firm does more hourly billing or alternative fee arrangements?
Zimolzak: We're not at a point where the majority of our matters are done on alternative fee arrangements, but the number is growing. From a law firm perspective, billable hours are easy to administer. It's really client-driven that alternative fee arrangements have become more prominent. We want to make sure that we are offering what arrangements are most beneficial to our clients that still allow us to run and manage a business.
LT: What are your thoughts on women and diversity in the legal community?
Zimolzak: At the time that I came in as managing partner, Kathy Jorrie took over as the managing partner for our Los Angeles office. Joann Jones is the managing partner for our Atlanta office. That means that we have women as the managing partners in our three largest offices. Our national department chair for litigation is Tami Azorsky, and has been for a long time. That is our largest department. We have a board of director structure and there are many women that serve on the board. From a leadership standpoint, I think McKenna does a very good job.
In terms of diversity, there is a lot of work that we do in that area. Having said that, I think our numbers are not where we would like them to be. It's an area that we continue to spend dedicated attention on and it continues to be important to us. Elevating people of different groups within the diversity circle to leadership positions is indicative of our commitment to diversity and will have the desired effect of communicating that this is a firm where there are opportunities for everyone.