Alternative Fee Arrangements: An Idea Whose Time Has Come?

ALFA International, Business Litigation Update, Vol. 2010 Issue 1

Although many attorneys and larger law firms traditionally have been resistant to calls for a movement away from the billable hour as the primary measure of the value of legal services performed, recent economic struggles have motivated some to revisit the possible use of AFAs. Frederick J. Krebs, president of the Association of Corporate Counsel, recently opined that the sharp decline in the economy in recent years may have finally resulted in a “tipping point” which will require attorneys to consider other options in terms of legal billing. Scott Turow, a well-known author of legal fiction who also works at a large international law firm, has declared that the use of AFAs is essential to law firms’ continuing financial success: “Without alternative billing schemes,” he says, “Lawyers will not be able to maintain the rapid escalation in incomes that big firms have seen.” As a result, clients and attorneys alike are once again taking a long, hard look at possible alternatives to the billable hour.