Bloomberg Law
Feb. 12, 2020, 11:00 AM

What’s So Bad About the Billable Hour?

Arianne Cohen
Arianne Cohen
Bloomberg News

John Chisholm advises professional service firms on how to end the practice of charging clients by the hour. A lawyer for four decades and the former managing partner of two large firms, he says it leads to unethical behavior and runaway costs. In December, for example, a judge earmarked $77.5 million of the Equifax Inc. data breach settlement for lawyers, which left most consumers with less than $7 each.

Chisholm likes pricing models that remunerate lawyers not for their time but for their expertise and value, and where services are billed as flat fees, retainers, or subscriptions that are adjusted ...