Updated 7:28 p.m.
Holland & Knight's public policy and regulation group will part ways with billable hours for fixed fee clients on Jan. 1, the firm announced Wednesday.
Rich Gold, who leads the group, said the move is designed to attract more lobbyists and business to the firm. He said the billable hour model used by lawyers is cumbersome for lobbyists, who often are worried about how to charge for the intelligence gathering they do for clients.
In lieu of billable hours, Holland & Knight will deploy an allocation system that Gold said is designed to ensure that lobbyists get their fair share for the work they do. He said the new system is “clean.”
“We thought it would help us work in a different, more productive way for our clients,” Gold said.
The decision to eliminate the billable hour came after more than a year of research and testing.
Holland & Knight last fall began a four-month study that examined billing practices used by about 20 law firms and lobbying shops. The firm then implemented this fall a pilot program that didn’t use the billable hour.
“Our sense was that this is where things were going to head,” Gold said.
Howard Marlowe, president of the American League of Lobbyists, said the move away from the billable hour is an “appropriate development.” Marlowe, whose firm Marlowe & Co. doesn’t use the billable hour model, said the system doesn’t adapt well to lobbying.
“I think it makes a lot of sense,” Marlowe said.