Do you believe this ever happened or could happen now, as an alternative fee arrangement?

Robert Pozen practiced law, among his many distinguished careers in business, government and academia. He was a partner at the Washington, D.C., law firm of Caplin & Drysdale, where he led its banking/securities department from 1981 to 1986.

Pozen wrote an article in the Harvard Bus. Rev., May 2011 at 127, about six principles for a more productive work life. Under principle 2, “It’s Not the Time You Spend But the Results You Produce,” he urges readers to recognize that “Your success should be measured by the results you produce, not the number of hours you log.” Sounds like grist for the AFA mill.

Then Pozen recounts how he realized at his law firm that charging clients for hours worked made no sense. In his words, after a few years, once his clients knew he was efficient, he tried a new tack. “I sent them a letter explaining that in the future I would bill them for double the time I actually spent on their work – unless they objected. Not one client did.”

For a senior partner at a large firm to notify his clients that he is so efficient he will henceforth double his recorded hours – and they all acquiesce (and continued to retain him, one supposes) – stuns me. He unilaterally and comprehensively corrected his value proposition from bargain to parity. His hourly billing rate must not have at all adequately reflected his relative skills and efficiency.

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