Abraham Lincoln has been quoted as saying that a lawyer’s time is “his stock in trade”.
The billable hour probably first gained favor around 1945 at Sherman & Sterling in New York City (see chapter 1 in The Honest Hour: The Ethics of Time-Based Billing by Attorneys), and was given a strong boost when the U.S. Supreme Court held in 1975 that lawyers’ minimum fee schedules violated the antitrust laws (Goldfarb v. Virginia State Bar, 421 U.S. 773). By the 1980s, in the words of a Harvard Law School professor, the billable hour “had evolved from a sensible tool of office management to a frenetic way of life.” (Mary Ann Glendon, A Nation Under Lawyers, p. 29, (1994)). What about the future? As hourly fees continue to lose popularity, what additional fee options are available? For those who want to look at billing standards beyond the billable hour, Jenkins has these recent titles in its collection that could be of help:
If you have questions about fee agreements -- how to draft them, what to include in them, and ethical issues associated with them -- then you're in luck! There are 2 classes scheduled in the near future that will give you answers.