The Florida Bar

The Vanishing Hourly Fee

Professionalism Resource Database

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Classification:Billable Hours
Date Published:03/01/1994
Title:The Vanishing Hourly Fee
Source:ABA Journal/Darlene Ricker

Ricker gives examples of the vanishing hourly fee citing the changing marketplace, and the need for clients to know exactly what they are paying for. Alternate billing is explored in this article, with firms increasing odds of being brought into the corporate client's inner circle of "chosen" firms.
Ricker also explores repercussions of not billing by the hour and investing far more time and effort into cases than what you've initially allocated as a time frame for a project.
Some attorneys have a 4-tiered fee structure for state felony cases, with separate charges for work up to the filing of formal charges, preliminary hearing and related proceedings in municipal court; pretrial motions and hearing in superior court; and finally an amount for the trial. Should the case be dismissed or pleaded out before trial, there is no need to refund a portion of the fee the client would have paid for the entire case through trial.
Article lists the popular alternatives for getting off the clock and lists several books about alternative billing methods.
Some attorneys are beginning to experiment with combination billings of a flat-rate, volume discounts, and charging a blended hourly rate including a bonus with positive results.
Article also includes graphics and survey results. 8 pages


[Revised: 07-28-2006]