One of the partners in my firm recently attended a conference where the General Counsel of a large corporation stated, in front several hundred of the top trial lawyers in the United States, that, “Alternative fee arrangements are like teenage sex. Everyone’s talking about it, no one’s actually doing it, and those who are, are doing it poorly.”
Surely some of the statement was meant to get a laugh out of the crowd, but that’s the perception a lot of law firm leaders and corporate counsel have about alternative fee arrangements (AFAs).
You can take the mistrust of AFAs a step further when it comes to high stakes litigation cases. I’ve heard many lawyers make the claim that it is “impossible” to develop a non-hourly fee arrangement for a large and complex litigation matter. They say, “How can you possibly predict what a matter will cost when you have variables such as the judge, the opposing counsel, the client and possible changes in the law halfway through a case?”
In an upcoming presentation at LMA’s P3 – The Practice Innovation Conference in Chicago, my fellow panelists and I plan to dispel this and many other myths about using AFAs in high-stakes cases. We’re not going to do this by talking about theoretical arrangements that one might consider when developing an AFA for a large case. We’re going to do it by describing actual arrangements used in actual cases. We’re going to talk about the types of legal issues involved in the case, the considerations made by both the firm and the client, the development of the fee structure, the negotiation process, what happened during the case, and finally how it ended up — including situations where one side does dramatically better than it would have on a traditional hourly arrangement.
We hope that this presentation will help both law firms and corporations understand that using an AFA in a high-stakes case is not just possible, it’s superior.
Register to join Geoff and fellow panelists Alexandra Buck (Bartlit Beck Herman Palenchar & Scott LLP) and Carla Goldstein (BMO Financial Group) on Tuesday, May 17, for “Alternative Fee Arrangments in High Stakes Litigation: Case Studies” at P3. Unable to make it in person? Purchase the P3 conference recordings bundle, which includes video-recorded content of all sessions (Available June 2016).
Geoff A. Frost is the Director of Client Development at Bondurant Mixson & Elmore LLP, a litigation boutique based in Atlanta, GA. Frost also serves on the Board for Georgia Law Center for the Homeless and is a past Program Chair for the Atlanta Legal Marketing Association City Group.