Sep 20

Interview with Tim Clinton: “How to Manage Alternative Billing and High-Profile Cases”


Tim_Bio_1-01 Interview with Tim Clinton:  "How to Manage Alternative Billing and High-Profile Cases" Commercial Litigation Firm News In the News Miami, FL, September 20, 2015 – The Marcus Evans Summit Group interviewed CB&P partner Tim Clinton in connection with the Chief Legal Officer Summit held at the Trump National Doral in Miami, FL from September 20, 2015 to September 22, 2015. The text of the interview is below:

What are some of the benefits of alternative billing compared to hourly billing?

Our firm has used many different alternative billing methods, such as flat fees, monthly fees, contingency fees, success fees, and various hybrids, and have found that the flexibility we offer is attractive to many clients. Compared to traditional hourly billing, alternative structures can be designed to maximize the client’s top concerns, such as predictability and alignment of financial incentives. Since litigation often swings between periods of high and low activity, causing traditional bills to vary from month to month, clients concerned about cash flow might prefer flat monthly fees over a traditional engagement. Other clients like their lawyers having a direct stake in the outcome. Traditionally, attorneys are paid for their time regardless of the outcome, but success fees and contingency fees tie compensation directly to the degree of success achieved. Despite the benefits of alternative fee arrangements, many clients still prefer traditional hourly billing, and it is not going away any time soon. Ultimately, we have found that clients appreciate the flexibility that firms like ours take with respect to our bills, whether or not they take advantage of alternative billing methods.

How do you maintain transparency when not billing by the hour?

With many alternative structures, we still provide monthly shadow invoices reflecting the information one would expect to see in a bill-by-the-hour invoice. These invoices include specific time entries for each task performed, aggregate hours and hourly rates for each attorney, and a total amount that would have been billed under an hourly engagement. This allows our clients to monitor our activity and track our performance, and the performance of the fee arrangement, on an ongoing basis.

What is one of the complexities unique to high-profile cases?

While ordinary litigation requires counsel to manage the flow of information to the opposing parties and their counsel, the judge, and the jury, high-profile cases throw an additional audience into the mix, the public at large.

“Pursue the litigation to maximize success as defined by the client, not the lawyer.”

For many clients, success or failure in court may be less important than the public fallout. It is a shame when competent counsel guides a client to success in court, only to find that the client’s reputation has been irreparably harmed by stories in the media that never should have seen the light of day. To avoid such a Pyrrhic victory, lawyers must be keenly aware of how their actions in court will play with the media, be familiar with the ethical rules regarding public communications about pending cases, especially in criminal matters, and not lose sight of the case’s potential impact on their clients’ public image. On the flip side, sometimes the opponent’s public image is actually driving the litigation, and counsel must be aware of this to be effective in settlement and discovery negotiations if they want to help their clients achieve their objectives.

How is that different from a case that does not have a high profile?

Concerns about the media and the public at large might be unique to high-profile cases, but nearly every case has certain externalities that lawyers should consider. A lawyer’s job is to find out what those issues are, such as reputation, opportunity cost, or preserving confidentiality, and pursue the litigation to maximize success as defined by the client, not the lawyer.

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The full interview, as published by Marcus Evans for the Summit, is below: