That’s what most lawyers ask when I tell them about our legal-service subscription plan—General Counsel as a Service. If we charge a single, fixed, monthly price instead of running the clock on every call and email, won’t our clients call every time they have an issue or a question?
We hope so!
We developed GCaaS to remove friction and make it easier for our clients to get guidance and insight before problems emerge. We’d rather smother risk while it’s small, before it becomes a blazing inferno.
The question exposes how most lawyers (unconsciously) think about the billable hour. It’s a punishment for interruption; a slap on the client’s wrist for the intrusion into the lawyer’s day. Can’t the client solve this on her own? This had better be important!
Hourly billing creates friction—and that friction is a feature, not a bug.
It also misaligns incentives. With hourly billing, profit isn’t earned building fences at the top of the cliff. Profit is earned scooping up broken bodies from the canyon floor.
In other words, don’t call us until the problem is big enough for us to really run the meter!
On occasion you’ll find a lawyer trapped in the mercenary hourly system who recognizes these problems and is willing to write off short, preventative calls. But without firm-wide alignment, that kind of corporate pro bono can’t last. More often than not it’s treated as a loss leader in search of a bigger project—startups with big-ticket work in the future should be particularly aware of this—and sooner or later the firm needs its lawyer to deliver.
When every call to your advisor is met with a slap or is a gateway drug to the good stuff, how trusting is that relationship, really?
So when we’re asked, if we don’t charge every time we pick up the phone, read an email, send a text, or Slack with the team, won’t our clients be talking to us all the time?
All we can say is: that’s the point!