Monday, October 24, 2011

Fee vs. Hourly Rate

A recent post by Toby Brown in 3 Geeks and a Law Blog - When Raising Rates - discusses the difference between increasing hourly rates and the final fee for the work performed. Brown says:
"Have conversations with clients about pricing, versus rates. At the end of the year, or end of a case, what really matters to a client is the fee. How much did the case or deal cost them? Your rate could be $10 per hour, but if you took 100’s of hours to complete a task, the fee is going to be high. A challenge here is that clients tend to compare pricing on a rate level, instead of a fee level. Use the price conversation to help the client shift their thinking towards fees. In the long-run this will greatly benefit them and solidify your relationship with them."
And, he's right. What really counts is the final bill for services. The hourly rate is just a benchmark on the way to the final fee. Lawyers with a niche specialty can charge a higher rate because the depth and breadth of their expertise will justify the final fee. There is no profession (except, perhaps medicine) where the final result justifies the price of services so much as the legal profession. If an attorney can obtain the right result in a complex case with a minimum of effort the fee, if not totally out of line, is secondary. The result justifies the fee.

GOP Candidates Ready to Dismantle Federal Judiciary

The GOP primary contenders appear ready to tear the federal judiciary apart:

- Perry wants to have term limits on the USSC justices.
- Bachman and Paul want to forbid to the USSC from considering cases involving same sex marriage (although for different reasons, of course).
- Gingrich and Santorum want to abolish the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

An article by Adam Liptak and Michael Shear in this morning's NY Times - Republicans Turn Judicial Power Into A Campaign Issue - details the GOP's opposition to some or all of the federal judiciary.
Criticism of “activist judges” and of particular Supreme Court decisions has long been a staple of political campaigns. But the new attacks, coming from most of the Republican candidates, are raising broader questions about how the legal system might be reshaped if one of them is elected to the White House next year.

The complaints are in line with the candidates’ general opposition to federal authority. Like the elected branches of the federal government, they say, the federal judiciary has become too powerful and intrusive.

Liptak and Shear take pains to outline why many of these anti-judiciary positions are completely out of the question. Perry's suggestion about term limits would, of course, require amending the Constitution since Article III, Section 1 confers lifetime tenure on the federal judiciary. Perry's proposal that Congress would have the right to overturn a USSC decision by a 2/3 majority would mean the abrogation of Marbury v. Madison - something Gingrich thinks would be a good thing.

Still, there may be a way for Congress to limit the power of the federal judiciary. Article III, Section 2 of the Constitution provides that the USSC, “shall have appellate jurisdiction, both as to law and fact, with such exceptions, and under such regulations as the Congress shall make.” These and other Constitutional waters remain untested.

Friday, October 21, 2011

ABA Begins Action to Curb Law School Reporting Abuses

In the wake of the scandals at Illinois and Villanova, reported here, an article in the online ABA Journal reports that the ABA Legal Education Section has decided to consider rules designed to penalize misrepresentation of admissions data by accredited law schools.

The Section recently announced a change in the questionnaire designed to elicit more accurate information regarding placement and employment data. For a sample of commentary about the misrepresentation of placement and employment data read the post here in Balkinization.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Westlaw on the Ropes?

The Three Geeks and a Law Blog has made a provocative post about the economic viability of Thomson Reuters. Westlaw is, of course, a subsidiary of Thomson Reuters. There has been speculation about this before. See an earlier post on this possibility. One potential reason for the possible demise of Thomson is competition from Bloomberg.

Monday, October 3, 2011

More on University of Illinois Law School Ethical Challenges

Readers of this blog may recall an earlier post regarding the misbehavior of the administration at the University of Illinois School of Law. Here's a follow-up post from the ABA Law Journal. And, here's more on story with some insightful commentary from Law Librarian Blog and from Above the Law.

When the USN&WR rankings begin to drive admissions policy you know there's something wrong with the system. The rankings are a useful tool for one school to measure itself against its peers. But it should not become the raison d'etre for any school.