At the Ninth Annual SuperConference, David Grumbine, Senior Counsel, Dispute Resolution Group, of Whirlpool Corporation spoke. “A world without billable hours is our mantra,” Grumbine announced, so he and his 30-person defense team pursue fixed fees whenever they can (See my post of March 1, 2008: fixed or flat fees with 36 references.).
Grumbine made a subtle point. “Hourly rates affect communications between a client and a law firm,” he said. When the lawyer at the firm bills in tenths of an hour, the ever-present charge may deter a cost-conscious in-house attorney, with consequences that are undesirable for both the firm and the legal department. Over the longer term, a law firm partner wants close and early communication with the client. Sure, fretful partners can lose sleep about abuse from too many calls if they have agreed to a fixed fee, but on the other hand a useful and timely call may save much effort.