There was a question on LinkedIn from one lawyer to other lawyers that asked if they thought if the whole "billable hour" setup got in the way of communication and collaboration with their clients.

I quickly dismissed the post and then paid attention to why I dismissed the post.

The person who posted it, as a legal professional, has been advocating for better client collaboration and communication for years.

Yet, he still has to ask this question?

I have a hard time sometimes entering into this type of conversation.

I knew from past experiences, I wouldn't necessarily be taken seriously if I replied to this particular post. A lot of lawyers won't listen to non-legal professionals when it comes to collaborating on their industry.

They just don't.

You get ignored long enough, you stop trying to speak.

If there's still a problem, you try to go around it. That's what happens when angry clients start venting:

  • online
  • in video
  • in podcasts

and more.

Of course, the billable hours model is a hindrance to communication and collaborations.

Of course it is.

How can an an attorney-client relationship succeed when a client is asking well-researched and specific questions, gets billed for doing so, but then only receives a vague, non-committal answer, that sounds like it came from a politician on debate night?

Oh, and is also billed for that?

Put this on repeat and you have behavior training from lawyers to clients in spades.

Actions speak louder than words.

Pretty soon, the client doesn't want to ask questions anymore, because they can't afford to keep increasing their bill.

When the case goes on long enough, they resign any power they actually have to the lawyer and their decisions on how to handle the case, both out of cost and out of ignorance.

So of course, it hinders client communications and collaboration.

Not all law firms are in the dark

Some firms are experimenting with and or have implemented flat fee type of payment structures. That's very, very good on them. Very good!

But there's still a long, long way to go.

I'm convinced lawyers can do a much better job of communicating with their clients. Especially when many individuals are choosing to learn for themselves.

If their attorneys won't answer their questions or even necessarily address a client's concerns with viable information (not just vague canned responses), then why shouldn't a person start learning for themselves?

One lawyer agrees and he provided a self-help course to make it happen.

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