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Billing-rate changes not by 12 months but by project experience

A year has passed; law firms raise their billing rates by law school year. This puts paid to claims by law departments that they manage experience and costs. (See my post of Nov. 21, 2005 arguing that firms need to show productivity increases.)

Instead, what if law departments defined levels of experience by hours associates and partners have worked on matters of the kind they are hiring the lawyer to do? If during the year, the lawyer worked more than 500 hours, on matters important to the law department, the department would accept that lawyer raising his or her billing rate.

It’s absurd that the passage of 365 days should entitle a lawyer who has not worked during that time on matters that are important to a law department to rates six percent.

Yes, this proposal would be a challenge to implement, at least until many law departments hit upon a common terminology and metrics for experience, but the idea is directionally sound. Pay more for increased experience that is relevant to you, not for the march of time.