Legal cartoons and humorous comment (c) Paul Brennan. All rights reserved.

I decided on 101 reasons as I didn’t want to depress the entire legal profession by having 1,001.
Paul Brennan, Lawyer, Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

Monday, August 25, 2008

# 35. Billable Hours


Australia is considering following the example of the UK and introducing a Court to deal with legal costs only, called the “Costs Court”.

The Law & Disorder eZine spoke to John Fytit, sole practitioner about the effect of a Costs Court on his practice.

Q: Do you support the proposed new Court?
A: I do. My firm intends to give up law and focus solely on costs to complement the new Court.
Q: But wouldn’t clients complain that you are charging them for doing nothing?
A: Well, they say that anyway. To my mind, not providing any legal service other than producing a bill would result in less complaints as there would be less to complain about. There would be fewer insurance claims and it would be a lot cheaper too as our costs would be a fraction of what they are now.
Q. How would it work?
A: After drawing up the costs agreement we would move straight on to the bill. We would get rid of billable hours and try new innovative methods of billing. Presently, we are looking at Double or quits.
Q. How would the Law Society view this?
A: They would need to manage this change. Continuing Legal Education without the tedious legal content would focus on the more important transferable skills, such as ethics. They could introduce motivational courses but I do not think that we would need them.
Q. Why would clients instruct you?
A. We would need to work out the product offering, hire a sales team with telesales support. We would need to be more strategic and focus on deliverables such as committee meetings, annual conferences and team building away days.
Q. Are you not concerned that the larger firms would form Departments focusing solely on costs?
A. I thought that they had.

John Fytit is a fictional cartoon character. Any similarity to an actual lawyer, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

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