Chief Justice of Western Australia slams time based billing by lawyers

The Hon Wayne Martin, Chief Justice of Western Australia, gave a speech on Monday, 17 May 2010 to officially launch Law Week 2010. His Honour’s address, titled ”Billable hours—past their use-by date?, reviewed many of the criticisms of time based billing  and urged all lawyers to take new approaches to charging for legal services.

Thanks to David Garnsworthy a senior cost barrister in Perth Ron Baker and I had the pleasure of meeting His Honour earlier this year.

Our very frank discussions centred around the billing processes of lawyers and the detrimental effects time based billing has had-and continues to have- on our profession and on our clients. We talked at length about alternatives to time based billing and subsequent to the meeting Ron sent him two chapters from his forthcoming book, Implementing Value Pricing: A Radical Business Model for Professional Firms.

His Honour cites many of Ron’s findings and thoughts and his paper has already gained significant press coverage throughout Australia and naturally drew criticism from some quarters of the more conservative ("earth is flat") members of our profession.

The pressure on the billable hour continues from all quarters. When are we as a profession going to take the hint and drop this outdated, outmoded and perverse business model before others force our hand?

Meanwhile Ron Baker returns again to Australia on 2nd June for 2 weeks to work with some innovative and progressive firms who truly want to be Firms of the Future and not firms of the past.