Corporate America Tries to Chip Away at Lawyer Bills

With first $1B legal charge on horizon, companies create new fee structure
By Drew Nelles,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 15, 2008 8:18 PM CDT
Some law firms are even doing away with the billable-hour system.   (Shutterstock)
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(Newser) – With corporate legal fees skyrocketing to unprecedented heights—the median amount big companies forked over per outside lawyer in 2007 was more than $600,000—firms are moving to exert some measure of control, Portfolio reports. Some of America’s biggest businesses are taking dramatic steps, like trading long-term agreements for lower fees or creating entirely new billing systems.

"Law firms are not run on the concept of how quickly and efficiently they can do work for their client,” one expert says. “They are run on how much they can charge their client before they are fired.” A very small number of firms has killed billable-hour systems and now charge their clients flat rates—and have seen a considerable uptick in business. (Read more business stories.)