The great fees debate
Late last year, members of the Commerce and Industry (C&I) Group of leading in-house lawyers spelled out their feelings on legal services billing in a report produced in conjunction with accountancy firm BDO Stoy Hayward. The report raises some important points. As its title 'Stop the Clock' implies, large numbers of in-house lawyers expressed dissatisfaction with the traditional way that law firms charge for their services - by the hour. Some eight in 10 of the in-house lawyers surveyed said time-based billing provided no incentive for law firms to be quick and efficient and the major perceived problem with this system, says the report, is that billing based on time spent fails to reflect the real value of the work involved, usually to the advantage of the law firm. Consequently, the report claims, the cost of legal services has been rising exponentially at a time when general counsel are under internal pressure to keep their budgets under control.
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