Surely Firms Cannot Keep Adopting The Ostrich Pose?

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In recent times in Australia a whole raft of eminent people from the heads of judiciary in several jurisdictions, a number of prominent corporate counsel, the overwhelming majority of young lawyers who detest being made to account for every 6 minutes of their day (and night),the legal press, the Victorian Attorney General and now the Federal Attorney General (see here) have been calling on the legal profession to reduce-if not completely eradicate-its addiction to time based billing.

About the only organisations in the legal arena who keep silent on the issue (apart from most law firms) are the lawyer representative bodies such as Law Council of Australia and the state law societies, the practice management vendors that make their living from timesheet entries and the legal consultants who perpetuate the "$ x hours" leverage model as best practice.

In regard to the silence of the various Law Societies and Institutes is it not just a little ironic that for all the good they do in promoting and supporting cost of access justice issues and upholding the reputation of lawyers in the community, they seemingly fail to appreciate that time based billing is a major factor in both the burdensome cost of access to justice and the diminished reputation of the legal profession in the wider community?. Even if such esteemed organisations do appreciate this they are horribly conflicted by their additional role as the Union of the legal profession and anything that could possibly diminsh the financial returns to its members cannot be supported.

With all the above vested interests working overtime coupled with the innate conservatism of our profession,is it any wonder,notwithstanding the pent up demand for change and the almost irrefutable business and social case for its demise, the profession clings to time based billing like a baby suckling from its mothers breast. Sometime the baby has to grow up and fend for itself.

Yet again is the majority of the profession going to wait until governments or clients force us to change? Governments can force the change if they wish to two ways-by bringing in yet another layer of regulations and/or use their considerable strength as purchasers of legal services to force law firms to move away from time based billing.

What a shame and what a blight on our profession if this is how it is going to come about when we could quite easily change ourselves and at the same time recapture some of the moral high ground we have clearly lost since time based billing was introduced for the betterment of future generations of our profession.

I am sure that by adopting the ostriche pose the world (or such of the world as you can see and hear under sand) appears calm and safe. Only trouble is you cannot see what is coming your way until it actually hits you.