US Law Firms Earned $7 Billion from Alternative Fee Arrangements

One of the elements demonstrating that the legal profession has changed permanently in the last five years is that the 100 top-grossing US law firms earned approximately $7 billion from alternative fee arrangements (AFAs), according to a new white paper “The Evolution of the Legal Profession.”

Written by Ari Kaplan, Principal of Ari Kaplan Advisors, the paper is based on interviews with 30 lawyers, in-house counsel, law professors and other legal experts. “By relying more heavily on alternative billing arrangements than we ever have before, we were able to bring in a lot more work,” said Crowell & Moring’s chairman, Kent Gardiner. Arent Fox, Akin Gump and Skadden Arps also derived income from unconventional billing.

According to Fulbright’s 2011 Litigation Trends Survey Report, 52% of US companies are using AFAs. Companies with bigger gross revenues use them to a greater extent. Lower costs are the overwhelming reason for using AFAs, followed by their predictability.

Company use alternative fees, afas, law firm marketing, legal marketing

Law firms and corporations are still not focusing enough attention on creating efficiencies in internal processes, according to Beth Anisman, a consultant with B&Co. and former Global Chief Administrative Officer for Legal of Lehman Brothers.

Some efficiencies, such as software that reviews e-discovery, have actually eliminated the need for thousands of junior associates, who have been laid off.

To maximize their value, lawyers need to focus on prior work produce and experience as opposed to solely billing hours, according to Jeffrey W. Carr, General Counsel of FMC Technologies.

There’s no looking back, according to the report. 74% of the respondents agreed that the changes will be permanent.


Wow Your Audience With a Killer Live Presentation

Amber Mac, Fast Company, public speaking, law firm marketing, legal marketingI found this great advice from Amber Mac on Fast Company:

1. Pack your presentation slide deck with audio, video, and pictures

During my early days keynoting events I did some social media consulting work with Tony Robbins. As part of the project, I traveled to a few of his seminars and got a unique perspective watching his motivational magic on and off stage. While Tony himself is a magnetic character, I saw how he incorporated music and video to turn his presentation into a show. He played energetic tunes, hilarious clips, showed touching photos, and each element was timed perfectly to keep the audience moving, laughing, and listening.

Think about it like this. Data slide, data slide, data slide, funny video. Repeat.

It sounds simple enough, but it's amazing how many presenters are great speakers but their slides are dry and boring. I learned a lot from Tony, so I now sprinkle YouTube clips and powerful images throughout every speech I do* (*I use Keynote presentation software on a Mac and rely on Snapz Pro X to record video online).

2. Make timely tweaks to keep things fresh

I am constantly tweaking information before I go on stage. There is nothing an audience appreciates more than hearing you say that you just found a new stat that very morning or you grabbed a relevant screen shot the night before. For example, I just spoke at a mobile learning conference, and I included a Twitter quote I saw from an attendee just hours before my speech started. I don't recommend that you change every slide at the last minute, but sprinkle in a few final tweaks to keep your deck fresh and your audience engaged.

3. Tell a few good stories to make your slides human

I watch my audiences closely and I can always tell when they're interested. Their heads are up, their eyes are ahead, and they're waiting anxiously for more. These moments always happen when I tell stories. I didn't learn this right away, but after a couple of years on the speaking circuit I started to notice the exact times when I had the most people engaged. My stories aren't long-winded, but simple little anecdotes to make the content more compelling.

For example, when I talk about how the tablet is changing the way we live, work, and play, I talk about the day my 2-year-old son walked up to our television set and tried to push on the screen to "make it do something." Clearly he was spending too much time on the iPad, so he assumed all screens were touch screens. This quick story always resonates with the new parents in the room.

Aside from building a killer deck, a good pre-speech routine can help to fight your nerves. Get some exercise. Eat some healthy food. Avoid caffeine at all costs. Once you get a few presentations under your belt, you never know, you just might like it too.