Firm abolishes billable hours

One firm’s banking and finance team has torn up the timesheets, introducing fixed fee arrangements for all clients.

The McCullough Robertson banking and finance team has introduced fixed fee billing for all work they take on.

While there is nothing entirely new new about the fixed pricing model, the team is determined to make an attitudinal change and remove timesheets from remaining the pinnacle of legal practice.

Banking and finance partner Peter Stewart believes that timesheets are now redundant.  He said that removing the billable hour entirely from the equation results in better work.

“People within the legal profession try to accumulate this time factor as some crucial element in day to day legal business life, [and] make wrong decisions because of it,” said Stewart. 

In the interest of maintaining good relationships with clients, said Stewart, the team only ever want clients to pay what they agreed to at the outset.  He said the only time he has unhappy clients is when they are surprised by their bill.

“Every piece of work that we are doing in this space is being done for a set and agreed fee,” he said.

Stewart said the firm has been investing in ways to implement fixed fee billing, although he indicated that none of it was particularly ground breaking but more of a natural modernisation of services.

“There will be things we will be doing to be able to keep our fixed cost controlled, to find alternate ways of getting things done and, nothing particularly miraculous, always working on our IT,” he said.  “The actual recording of time is a time consuming process so to some extent we’re going to carve that out of the equation,” he said.

“It’s not that revolutionary because the notion of fixed pricing is well entrenched and expected in the market place; it’s just this almost default resorting back to time sheets as some formal mechanism for the determination of some sort of service you’re providing that people are just offended by.” 

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