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An odd comment on why law departments insist on hourly billing

Matt Homann wrote a post on his blog, The [Non]Billable Hour, ten “rules” about hourly billing. I thought that was a promising topic, but found the entries to be mostly clever, quasi-aphorisms. But one caught by eye: “Sophisticated clients who insist on hourly billing do so because they’re smarter than you are, not because they want you to be paid fairly.”

I disagree, twice. Sophisticated lawyers in-house probably believe that hourly billing – despite its much maligned flaws – serves better than any other billing method. IQ has nothing to do with it. I also disagree with the insinuation that those lawyers connive to pay any of their firms less than fairly. In-house lawyers know that if their firms feel mistreated, under-paid, and underappreciated they will not perform as well and will sooner or later decamp.