Devil's Advocate Evaluates Alternative Legal Fees

Are you considering “alternatives” to replace hourly legal fees? Take an informed look before you leap. Devil’s Advocate analyzes your options and evaluates the results.
By: Devil's Advocate, LLC
Nov. 12, 2012 - PRLog -- Alternative legal fees are, once again, a popular topic in the legal and business press.  Sometimes called “value billing,” they are supposed to provide an “alternative” to runaway hourly legal bills, which tend to reward inefficiency, inexperience, and delay.  In theory, a properly designed alternative legal fee will avoid many of the problems with hourly fees, compensate the lawyer reasonably, and reward the client with a lower net fee.  With more than 20 years of expertise, Devil’s Advocate helps you take a careful, educated look before you leap.

If you’re a lawyer thinking about offering alternative legal fees or a client receiving a proposal from your lawyer, Devil’s Advocate can evaluate the risks and benefits, along with other options, plus reduce your plan to a workable written agreement.  DA also shows you what to expect – good or bad – and how to track performance.

The best time to negotiate an alternative fee is at the beginning of the engagement, when the client has the most bargaining power and can shop around.  If you already have an alternative fee in place, Devil’s Advocate provides performance monitoring and bill review services so you can track the alternative to see how you’re doing along the way.  We know the warning signs for trouble, like sudden shifts in staffing.  You can also assess whether the alternative really saved you money or may have backfired.

Examples of alternative legal fees include flat or percentage fees, contingent fees, blended hourly rates, fee caps, and many others.  There are also hybrid fees that combine two or more billing methods, such as a heavily discounted hourly rate and a bonus contingent on meeting the client’s expectations.

According to DA’s founder, John Toothman, “Some of these common alternatives work, while others just lead to more problems and a bigger bill.  The best alternatives balance the risk between lawyer and client and provide incentives for the lawyer to achieve the client’s objective. Alternatives have been around for decades – they become a fad with every business recession.  But this time many law firms are encouraging clients to jump on the bandwagon by proposing misleading ‘alternatives’ that increase the legal tab substantially, with even more risk for the client and fewer incentives for the law firm to be efficient and successful.”

Before you waste lots of time and money experimenting with alternative legal fees, consult with Devil's Advocate about the key features you need to look for, along with the holes in each alternative.  There’s no such thing as a perfect alternative fee that fits every situation, but we can help you build one that fits your situation.

Devil's Advocate has decades of experience with all types and sizes of law firms and every sort of alternative legal fee. We spot the hidden problems with alternative proposals, help you customize your alternative and the fee agreements they require, and then monitor their performance.

Since 1993, Devil’s Advocate® LLC has provided cost-effective legal fee management and litigation consulting services to thousands of clients, law firms, government agencies, and individuals around the United States and internationally.  Our services include legal bill reviews, expert testimony, second opinions on litigation issues, litigation monitoring, case post-mortems, legal ethics analysis and opinions, legal malpractice analysis and opinions, law firm selection, legal fee agreement drafting and evaluation, evaluation and testing of legal fee management software, and more.

John Toothman, the founder of Devil’s Advocate, is an experienced trial lawyer and author of dozens of legal publications.  John graduated from Harvard Law School, was a trial attorney at the US Department of Justice, and has been a partner in Washington, DC, area law firms.  John is the author of Trial Practice Checklists 2d (with Douglas Danner) and Legal Fees: Law & Management (with Professor William Ross).

Call us at 703-684-6996 or visit our website:
Source:Devil's Advocate, LLC
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Tags:Legal Fees, Lawyer Bills, Alternative Fees, Value Billing
Industry:Legal, Insurance, Business
Location:United States
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