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The Paradigm of Billing Time: How Lawyers Are Not Like Investors

Aug. 6, 2020, 12:39 PM

An expert on contingency fees argues that class-action lawyers should be compensated like investors considering the risks they undertake, but that they are too often restrained by the profession’s billable hour allegiance.

Limiting Factor: “When other entrepreneurs and investors succeed in their ventures, no one asks them: How many hours did you spend on this venture? What effective hourly rate did you earn?” Vanderbilt’s Brian Fitzpatrick writes.

Breaking the Mold: Lawyers would benefit from educating clients about how value-based models operate, and when they are more appropriate than the billable hour model. But it will take a long time and hard work to diminish the billable hour paradigm in the legal profession. Roy Strom has more in this week’s Big Law Business column.

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DAILY BRIEF

Law Firms

Husch Blackwell Lawyer Helps Kanye West Get on Wisconsin Ballot
Trump campaign lawyer and Husch Blackwell senior counsel Lane Ruland is reportedly helping rapper Kanye West get on the ballot in Wisconsin as part of a long shot White House bid.

In-House

Rite Aid Bags Epstein Becker Partner to Fill Top Legal Role
Rite Aid Corp. has hired Epstein Becker & Green partner Paul Gilbert as its new general counsel more than two months after parting ways with its previous top lawyer.

Business of Law

EY Aims To Double Legal Services Revenue Over Next 12 Months
EY’s John Knox has a new job with an ambitious mandate: grow his part of the massive Big Four accountancy’s legal division—fast.

YouTuber Wins Attorneys’ Fees in Clinton Party Copyright Case
YouTube personality Carl Benjamin—known on the platform as Sargon of Akkad—won attorneys’ fees in Manhattan federal court on Wednesday after successfully defending a copyright suit over his mocking of a video taken at Hillary Clinton’s election night party.

Latham, Hughes Hubbard Steer Deal to Take GCM Grosvenor Public
Latham & Watkins advised half century-old alternative asset management firm GCM Grosvenor on a deal to go public by merging with CF Finance Acquisition Corp., a special purpose acquisition company sponsored by Cantor Fitzgerald.

What impact has the coronavirus pandemic had on bankruptcy filings across the country? To gain a clearer picture, Bloomberg Law has launched its Bankruptcy 2020 Survey to assess the current state of bankruptcy practice. Take the survey here.

Follow Bloomberg Law’s global coverage of the coronavirus pandemic on our Coronavirus Outbreak channel, and track the latest changes in the federal court operations with our interactive map.

WAKE-UP CALL

Simpson Thacher, Latham Advise in Ancestry.com Deal
In today’s column, more law schools are choosing to go all remote this fall because of the rapid increase in U.S. Covid infections; law firms’ white collar hires are up in part because of all that Covid-19 federal stimulus money; the NRA is suing JAMS and Winston & Strawn after an arbitrator got booted because a racist email forward; a Kasowitz lawyer on President Trump’s impeachment-defense team is joining the White House.

PRACTITIONER INSIGHTS

INSIGHT: There Are No Short Cuts in Antitrust Enforcement
Former FTC Commissioner Maureen K. Ohlhausen examines the recent House hearings on antitrust issues in Big Tech. Now with Baker Botts, she supports regular evaluation of antitrust enforcement, but says the hearings provided no smoking guns and hearings are no replacement for FTC and DOJ pathways to antitrust enforcement.

INSIGHT: Lessons From a Rare in-Person Courtroom Experience in a Pandemic
What’s it like appearing in court during a pandemic? Gibson Dunn attorneys share their experiences from a five-day in-person evidentiary hearing in New York. They say masks and social distancing were required, but they impacted the usual benefits of face-to-face communication—visual cues, the ability to hear clearly, and close conversations with co-counsel.

INSIGHT: NLRB Finally Limits Protection of Abusive, Profane, Offensive Conduct
The NLRB’s July General Motors LLC opinion finally clarifies when employers can discipline workers for offensive, abusive conduct, say Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP attorneys, including former NLRB chairman Philip A. Miscimarra. They offer employer takeaways and welcome the clarification that recognizes an employer’s legitimate need to maintain order and a discrimination-free workplace.

INSIGHT: EPA’s Covid-19 Relief for Approvals of Diesel Engines—Is It Enough?
The EPA issued guidelines to diesel engine manufacturers on how it will consider the Covid-related circumstances that may delay their ability to meet Clean Air Act certification and compliance requirements. Sidley Austin LLP attorneys look at the flexibilities and say the EPA may need to consider temporarily amending its certification requirements.

WORKFLOWS

DLA Piper said energy industry in-house senior counsel Raul Farias joined as a partner in its corporate practice and energy sector in San Diego | Mintz hired corporate attorney Louis Mercedes as a member in Boston, arriving most recently from Jones Day | Hunton Andrews recruited Seyfarth worklaw partner Scott Nelson in Houston as a partner | Pillsbury added Insolvency & Restructuring partners John Pintarelli (from Morrison & Foerster) and Patrick Fitzmaurice (from Troutman Sanders) to the New York office | Seyfarth hired Adam Lasky as a partner in the Litigation department in Seattle from Oles Morrison | Latham & Watkins said that Peyton Worley has joined the Emerging Companies Practice as a corporate partner in New York from Cooley | Paul Hastings announced the launch of its FDA Regulatory practice, and added FDA enforcement and investigations lawyers Nathan Sheers and Peter Lindsay as partners in the Investigations and White Collar Defense practice in Washington | Haynes and Boone said that corporate restructuring lawyer Richard S. Kanowitz joined as a partner in New York from Cooley | Norton Rose Fulbright hired Ted Kamman to its New York office as a partner from Sidley Austin.

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To contact the reporter on this story: Jerome Ashton in Washington at jashton@bloomberglaw.com

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