Monthly Archives: January 2004

Is this what it is really like?


Value Billing Unethical?

I promised David at EthicalEsq that I would respond to this post of his today. In a response to my previous post on value billing, David argues:

There are a lot of problems with the billable hours system, but most of them are the result of abuses rather than of the inherent nature of using hourly billing. In determining the reasonableness of a fee, therefore, the legal profession has attempted to avoid the worse distortions from hourly billing by not fully charging for hours spent “getting up to speed” in an unfamiliar area of law. The client rightfully expects expertise and needs to be informed by the ethical lawyer when he or she is not yet fully competent in a particular legal subject.

The client also rightfully expects to pay a fee that corresponds — at least roughly — to the amount of time spent by the lawyer. And, the honest fiduciary should let the client know approximately how much work is involved. Some sophisticated clients might want to experiment with or negotiate for some kind of value-related fee. But no sophisticate would say “I know you’ll only spend a few minutes on this, but it’s worth millions to me, so here’s a seven-figure check.” Instead, the savvy client would negotiate for, or shop around for, a more competitive fee, no matter the “value” of the result.

David and I both agree on quite a few things, the primary one being that a lawyer should educate his or her client up front about the basis for the fee and give them an estimate of the range of costs and outcomes. However, I feel (unlike David) that the billable hour system is the problem, for both lawyers and clients. The best indictment of the billable hour that I’ve found on the web is in this article where the author writes:

The billable hour, a practice used only since the early 1960s, has become an artificial device that ill serves both professionals and clients. It divides the time of the accountant and lawyer and consultant into parts, turns each professional into a bookkeeper, and creates such profound guilt for every working hour that’s not billable that important non-billable firm needs are inadequately addressed. It affords the opportunity for the worst kinds of excess, such as padding hours, thereby increasing revenue without supplying value – a short-sighted practice bound to backfire. It makes no distinction between the hour spent on trivial activities and the hour spent on substantive matters. Moreover, if the client perceives that there is no added value in the hourly bill, the general practice is to renegotiate the fee, which is becoming a common practice in today’s competitive environment – and makes a mockery of hourly billing. It’s such an anachronism, and so entrenched, that it precludes such rational billing approaches as value added and enhanced worth or contribution to a client’s business, neither of which is best calculated by the hour. As one sage put it, it’s a virtual cartel in which every firm seems to arrive at the same billing rate, even though quality of service is not consistent from one firm to another. Or even from one partner to another in the same firm.

How many other products are bought this way? My wife and I are going to be building a new home this year. We we were given a choice by our contractor to pay a set price or be charged on a “time and materials” basis. We chose the former. I don’t care how much my contractor profits on the job so long as I get a quality home for a price I’m willing to pay. To use another example, should I agree to buy a car at $200.00 per hour multiplied by the time taken to build it? If I get a lazy shift the day my car rolls down the line, should I expect pay more than my neighbor who bought the same car built by a more efficient crew for thousands less?

The Illinois Supreme Court requires lawyers to adhere to the code of ethics. Rules of Professional Conduct, Rule 1.5 (which David quotes in part in his post) states:

Factors to be considered as guides in determining the reasonableness of a fee include the following:

(1) The time and labor required, the novelty and difficulty of the questions involved and the skill requisite to perform the legal services properly.

(2) The likelihood that the acceptance of the particular employment would preclude other employment by the lawyer.

(3) The fee customarily charged in the locality for similar legal services.

(4) The amount involved and results obtained.

(5) The time limitations imposed by the client or by circumstances.

(6) The nature and length of the professional relationship with the client.

(7) The experience, reputation and ability of the lawyer or lawyers performing the services.

(8) Whether the fee is fixed or contingent

. Only one of the thirteen underlined factors speak to the time spent on the task. I argue that many of the other factors speak to the value received by the client. In the end, I think David and I both agree that a lawyer should charge a fair fee. In value billing, what is “fair” is in the eyes of the client. In hourly billing, what is “fair” is in the eyes of the lawyer. Which is a better way to serve your clients?

I do know this, I will not be offering my clients the option to choose between hourly and value billing. I refuse to perpetuate a system that allows me to charge more to a given client the less efficient I am. My prospective customers will have the choice to use me and my value billing system – or they can go to a “traditional” lawyer who bills by the hour. As my site says: “No more stinkin’ timesheets.”


In this post Jennifer Rice at What’s Your Brand Mantra? asks:

If the purchase process in your company includes a waiting period, what can you do to alleviate “buyer’s remorse” and create anticipation?

As lawyers, there is often a significant waiting time between the time we take on a particular assignment and complete it. In litigation, the “waiting period” is often years. How can we keep our clients engaged from the time they retain us until their work is complete?

Setting Expectations

In this post on his Ripples weblog, David St. Lawrence writes:

Hindsight is so humbling. It took me 45 years of professional life to arrive at the following conclusion: Setting expectations correctly is far more important than the actual work that you do.

I hate voicemail. However, I have heard of a consultant who has voicemail that says, “Leave a message and I’ll return your call in 90 minutes.” He always returns the call in sixty minutes or less — or has an assistant do it. He sets a client’s expectations and then exceeds them. If we lawyers were able to consistenly do the same thing, we wouldn’t be the butt of so many jokes.

Branding vs. Naming your firm.

I know that we have all heard at one time or another about “branding” a law firm. I am going to be renaming my law firm from “Homann Law and Mediation” to some other name because I have spun off my mediation business into a new entity: Consensus Mediation, LLC. Eric Heels writes in this post on his law firm website titled, “Just Say Moo – How To Name And Brand Your Product To Make It Stand Out From The Crowd,” that:

You should avoid choosing a brand name that is generic or descriptive. Don’t name your bookstore “Bob’s Bookstore,” or “Affordable Books.” Instead, choose a name that is suggestive of the qualities your product stands for. If you are selling data backup services, perhaps include “elephant” in the name, since elephants supposedly have good memories. If you are starting a bus company, consider the fact that “greyhounds” are very fast dogs.

An even better strategy is to choose a distinctive brand name that is unrelated to your product or service. “Apple” is a good name for a computer company because computers have nothing inherently to do with apples.

The best strategy is to choose a distinctive company name that is a brand new word. Like Verio. This is, of course, the most fun and the most challenging. Made-up words can sound cool or they can sound like names that didn’t make the final cut for the Seven Dwarfs.

I love Eric’s advice to avoid your name as your brand — especially when you have a name like mine that everyone spells “Holman.” However, as this article by William Arruda on the website (registration required, but worth the trouble) illustrates, branding is about more than the name and logo of your firm, it is about the entire customer experience

What separates you from others with similar skills and abilities is your unique promise of value. Communicating that unique promise through all that you do enables you to stand out and greatly expand your success.

But if you send messages that are incompatible, those around you will not know what you stand for or what to expect from you. So remember, being “the same” is essential to successful branding.

“Saming” doesn’t mean that you will be forever stuck where you are. In fact, saming enables you to get where you are going. Once you have built a reputation through consistent expression of your unique promise of value, you have the permission to evolve, as long as that evolution is consistent with your brand promise.

So, to recap: name + logo + consistent (and unique) customer experience = brand.

Lawyers as Retailers

In this interview, retail consultant Paco Underhill answered the question, “What are some of the more innovative things you’re looking at and seeing in the physical world of retailing?” His response:

Some are the trends to edu-tainment. Where people have realized that if they give people other reasons to come to the store, people stop worrying about prices. I was at a beautiful store yesterday here in Chicago called American Girl, which is sort of an actualization of the fantasy life of a doll. There’s a little lunchroom where you can bring your doll, and little chairs so your doll can sit at the table with you. You could buy matching sets of doll clothes and then clothes for you, for your kid. I mean, the whole thing was wonderful, but it was also very scary. Look at Restoration Hardware, where you go in and sort of get lost in stuff.

Can law firms give people other reasons to engage their lawyers (come into the store)? If so, does providing ancillary services your clients value in an atmosphere they like make them more likely to stop worrying about your price?

There is a law firm I’ve heard of in Urbana, Illinois that has a pool table and bar on the third floor of its office in a renovated old building. They often ask clients to, “Come by for a beer and shoot some pool.” What a cool idea.

Thanks to Marginal Revolution for the link to the Underhill interview.

Scarcity in Law Firms – Part 1

In this article, from the December, 2003 issue of Fast Company magazine, Seth Godin talks about the relationship between scarcity and value. Godin argues that the only way to make a profit is by trading in something that’s scarce. Then Godin takes up the legal industry:

It’s not just about product knockoffs, of course. While there are almost half a million lawyers practicing in the United States today, there are (gasp!) more than 125,000 in school right now. No matter what you believe about lawyers creating ever more work for ever more lawyers, there’s no question that with so many of them, they’re hardly scarce.

How can lawyers take advantage of the scarcity principle to make what they do (or sell) more scarce and more valuable? Godin continues:

So what’s scarce now? Respect. Honesty. Good judgment. Long-term relationships that lead to trust. None of these things guarantee loyalty in the face of cut-rate competition, though. So to that list I’ll add this: an insanely low-cost structure based on outsourcing everything except your company’s insight into what your customers really want to buy.

I have been struggling with the scarcity issue for quite some time. I am a general practitioner, and take most kinds of legal work except for personal injury and criminal cases. In the town I practice in, there are seven lawyers (including myself) serving a population of approximately 13,000 people. None of us limit ourselves to just one kind of work, nor do we market our practices except for the obligatory yellow pages ads.

What I would like to do is make my firm stand out to a clientele I want to serve. A friend of mine has an uncle who is a small-town butcher. If he advertises chickens for thirty-nine cents per pound, he sells ten per day. If he says, “Limit 3” at that same price, his sales increase five-fold. Can lawyers capitalize upon this principle? I think I have my answer, but welcome comments. I’ll post a summary of my business plan next week when I finish it.

Great Brainstorming Tool

I’ve been looking for a good outlining/brainstorming tool to use as I rethink my practice and my life. I have spent a bit of time with Mindmanager and really like its features, but was a bit put off by the $300 price tag. Thanks to Joyce Wycoff and her reader Matt Vance, I happened upon Freemind. Freemind is a free mind-mapping tool that allows you to brainstorm, create outlines, and do other free-form thinking on your computer screen. Learning the basics takes about two minutes. Check it out. A screen shot can be found here.

The problem with value billing.


Great Quote

“To do a common thing uncommonly well brings success.” Henry J. Heinz

The Grind of Business

In this Business Week Online article, author B.J. Hawkins discusses her company’s committment to bring balance to the lives of its employees. Interesting read, and Ms. Hawkins concludes:

I work an average of 10 hours a day now, rather than the 18 I used to put in prior to my advisers’ urging me to face the truth about myself. Work is no longer a continuous grind, but rather what it was always meant to be: a fulfilling aspect of a life that also includes family and self — indeed, even an entrepreneur’s life.

How many lawyers can make a similar transition?

It is not just a legal problem.

Adrants had a post commenting on an Association of National Advertisers study which revealed:

a third of marketers think their agencies are suffering from “creative arrogance”, charge too much for their work and the work that is produced is off strategy. Seems agencies dirty little secret has been found out. Without bashing all agency creatives, the problem stems from the inability of some in advertising to realize that making an ad is not art. It’s a commerce of craft. While agencies do need to stand their ground on creative and strategic direction if they truly believe in it and it’s backed up by research but at the same time, they need to realize the client is the one paying the bill and is the one who has the final say. This is not to say agencies should just roll over at the wim of the client but they should realize they are not creating the next Mona Lisa to be hung on the wall or entered into the awards show of the month. An ad has the very important purpose of moving consumers to a distinct mindset or action.

Replace “marketers” with “clients” and “agencies” with “law firms.” Sound familiar?

Get Lots of Ideas

“The best way to get a good idea is to get a lot of ideas.” — Linus Pauling

I’ve been doing an exercise to help me realize my goal of transforming my law practice into an innovative and fun place to work — and get away from the billable hour. Every morning, I take a legal pad and number the left-hand margin from 1 – 25. Then I spend the next ten minutes generating 25 ideas. The ideas don’t have to be business-related, but I find that they often are. I put the list in a folder behind my desk marked “ideas” and don’t look at it again until I get ready to leave for the day. At the end of the week, I bring the lists home to think about the ideas. When Monday morning rolls around, I usually have at least one of the ideas that I want to incorporate permanently in my law practice. Each Monday, I’ll try to share those ideas with you.

Conversations I don’t want to have with my daughter.


One good reason for value billing.

Carolyn Elefant asks the question on “How do you know if your big firm lawyer is overbilling?” While I want to answer, “Because he’s breathing,” I got to thinking about an article I read several weeks (months?) ago about a firm that got in trouble by billing two clients tens of thousands of dollars (in hourly billing) for the same product. The firm’s deceit was found out because they failed to erase the metadata in the documents they sent the second client.

While my initial instinct is to say how awful the law firm’s conduct was, was the client harmed? The client got a product (the documents, advice, etc.) that they valued at a price they were probably willing to pay. In this case the value received by the second client was at least as great as that received by the first (for whom the hourly work was done to begin with). And while the firm’s conduct was dishonest, to say the least, should the second client have been charged significantly less because the documents were already “in the system” and just needed to be revised?

This is the dilemma many lawyers face when trying to bill hourly when they have become proficient at any given task. If my technology investment allows me to complete a task in one-third the time it took me last year, does that task become two-thirds less valuable to my client? Staying away from hourly billing should allow lawyers to maximize their revenue, capitalize upon their efficiencies, and keep their law licenses.

Can a law firm be a purple cow?

From Seth Godin’s book Purple Cow: Transform Your Business by Being Remarkable:

Make a list of competitors who are not trying to be everything to everyone. Are they outperforming you? If you could pick one underserved niche to target (and to dominate), what would it be? Why not launch a product to compete with your own — a product that does nothing to appeal to this market?

My legal niche to target is going to be woman-owned small business start-ups. What’s yours?

It’s not just me.

This study says that business executives want more job satisfaction, and not more money.

Via The Occupational Adventure blog.

What do lawyers sell?

What do lawyers sell? In this post at the authors (talking to software companies) argue:

No more beating around the bush. You can’t sell software. You can’t sell cool technology. You can’t even sell a good idea. In order to sell anything, you need to sell a solution. And even that’s not good enough. But it’s a starting point—selling a solution to a specific consumer segment

I would argue that the same applies to lawyers. Find a specific consumer segment and sell them a solution — don’t sell them your time.

Via The Entrepreneurial Mind blog.

UPDATE: This article asks the same question (Thanks, David at ethicalEsq).

Solo lawyers as developing countries?

The dilemma most small firm lawyers face — especially when they first hang up their own shingle — is a lack of resources. In a new article on the Harvard Business School Working Knowledge site, authors Donald N. Sull, Alejandro Ruelas-Gossi, and Martin Escobari talk about how innovation is often stymied in developing countries. The impediments to innovation faced by developing countries seemed much like those barriers I faced (and continue to face) when I decided to become a solo lawyer:

1. Developing countries generally lack a solid technology base of trained scientists and world-class research universities.
2. Companies in developing countries must manage to eke out a profit while serving customers with low disposable income; per capita gross domestic product in the advanced economies is on average ten times that of developing nations.
3. Managers in these companies must often innovate on a shoestring budget, since the high cost and scarcity of capital preclude massive spending on R&D. As a result, they must innovate from other areas of their business’s structure, including manufacturing, logistics, marketing, and customer service

The three keys to innovating on a limited budget, the authors argue, are: knowing your customers’ mindsets—intimately; innovating around—rather than through—the technology; and scouring the globe for good ideas. Each key comes with great examples from successful companies in the developing world. My favorite:

Employees of China’s Haier, for example, discovered through visiting rural customers that they frequently used their washing machines not only to launder clothes but also to clean vegetables. By making a few minor modifications to the washers they manufactured, Haier was able to market the machines as versatile enough to wash both clothing and vegetables, and rapidly became the market leader in rural areas of its home country

.As a lawyer, a limited budget should not keep you from becoming an innovative service provider to your clienst. Listen to your customers, use your technology efficiently, and look outside the legal profession for great ideas.

Lawyers for Love

Why can’t this be a law firm mission statement?

The “Southwest Airlines” of Law Firms

In my last post, I talked about the book Creating Customer Evangelists and how it used certain companies as examples of how to create buzz and build customer loyalty.  One of these companies was Southwest Airlines

The subject of Southwest Airlines as a model business for lawyers comes up in Larry Bodine’s Professional Marketing Blog where he summarizes a speech by Deborah Ackerman, VP and GC of Southwest Airlines.  Ms. Ackerman said that a law firm run like SWA would:

-Be the low-cost producer.  -Have excellent service.  -Focus on clients as customers and not as a legal matter.  -Have no layoffs.  -Have an annual chili cook-off.  -Have a tradition of fun.  Halloween is a major holiday at the headquarters, and everyone comes to work in a costume, including the CEO.  -Relax the dress code.  -Be family-oriented.  There is no expensive artwork on the walls of SWA.  Instead there are pictures of employees with their families, pets and hobbies.  -Display "brag boards" everywhere where employees can put up notes about their own and their kids’ accomplishments.  -Have many employee recognition programs.  -Establish an Employee Catastrophic Fund to help employees in cases of an uninsured loss or serous illness.  -Communicate in a timely fashion to employees.  -Give hugs and praise from to staff as a daily occurrence.

Bodine calls this a "total fantasy" and says, "There will never be a law firm run like Southwest Airlines,  because law firms care about partner profits, not employee happiness.  The employees are there to serve the partners and help the firm make more money.  Law firm goals are to move up the chart of the AmLaw profitability tables."

Why can’t a law firm be run like Southwest?  Don’t clients deserve a choice? Airline passengers choose Southwest in no small part because SWA employees enjoy their jobs so much, they make travelling fun.  How many lawyers enjoy their jobs so much, their enthusiam rubs off on their clients? Not enough.

Creating Client Evangelists

I just finished the book Creating Customer Evangelists by Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba and found dozens of great ideas to build my ideal firm. In the book, the authors profile several companies that have created amazing “buzz” from extremely satisfied “customer evangelists.” The companies profiled included Krispy-Kreme, Build-a-Bear Workshops, and Southwest Airlines. Each company was held out by the authors as an example of a good business made great through fervent customer support and word-of-mouth advertising. A singular focus on the customer experience (and not on stock price, shareholder value, or even profits) differentiated these companies from their competitors.

Th first step in creating avid customers is to learn what those customers want. Huba and McConnell set out ten golden rules for learning — and valuing — customer feedback:

1. Believe that customers possess good ideas. 2. Gather customer feedback at every opportunity. 3. Focus on continual improvement. 4. Actively solicit good and bad feedback. 5. Don’t spend vast sums of money doing it. 6. Seek real-time feedback. 7. Make it easy for customers to provide their feedback. 8. Leverage technology to aid your efforts. 9. Share customer feedback throughout the organization. 10. Use input to make changes — and communicate changes back to customers.

I’ve been meeting individually with my best clients for the past month to learn what I can do to make my services more appealing to them. Now I have to identify and meet with my unhappy clients and learn how I screwed up my relationship with them (and how to keep it from happening again). I’m also beginning a Customer Advisory Board (another of the authors’ great ideas) by asking my best clients to serve on a sort of “board of directors” for my firm and to help me learn to become indispensible to them.

Visit McConnell’s and Huba’s weblog Church of the Customer for a daily dose of their wisdom and insight.

What’s your value proposition?

In this article on the website (free registration required), Michael L. Perla suggests that “anyone should be able to answer the question, ‘What’s your value proposition?'” Perla defines a value proposition as follows:

In essence, a value proposition is an offer to some entity or target in which they (the possessor) get more than they give up (merit or utility), as perceived by them, and in relationship to alternatives, including doing nothing. In terms of form, a value proposition is generally a clear and succinct statement (e.g., 2-4 sentences) that outlines to potential clients and stakeholders a company’s (or individual’s or group’s) unique value-creating features.

In my line of work, then, a value proposition is an offer to a client giving them more value than they expect for less money than they think. While I’m still working on my value proposition, Perla suggests a few questions to help in formulating yours (paraphrased for lawyers):

-What are your core competencies and how do you differentiate yourself from the competition?

-How do you create value for your clients, and how do your clients measure the value that you deliver?

-What capabilities can you bring to bear to execute against your value promise?

-Why should your prospective clients accept your particular offer?

-How do you compare and differentiate the value that you deliver from the value that your competitors deliver?

-How do you substantiate your ability to deliver on your value promise?

These are tough questions. I wonder how many lawyers can answer them — or have even tried? They sure don’t look like any final exam I remember from law school.

The problem with the billable hour, Part 1.

In this article, Patrick J. Schiltz, a Notre Dame law professor, discusses the collision of money and ethics in traditional law firm practice. Arguing that the culture of the law firm — with its focus on billable time — induces many young lawyers to regularly “steal” from their clients:

For the typical young attorney, acting unethically starts with his timesheets. One day, not too long after he starts practicing law, he will sit down at the end of a long, tiring day and he just won’t have much to show for his efforts in terms of billable hours. It will be near the end of the month. He will know that all of the partners will be looking at his monthly time report in a few days, so what he’ll do is pad his timesheet just a bit. Maybe he’ll bill a client for 90 minutes for a task that really took him only 60 minutes to perform. He will, however, repeatedly promise himself that he will repay the client at the first opportunity by doing 30 minutes of work for the client for “free.” In this way, he’ll be “borrowing,” not “stealing.”

Then what will happen is that it will become easier for the young lawyer to take these little loans against future work. And after a while, he will stop paying back these little loans. He will convince himself that, although he billed for 90 minutes and spent only 60 minutes on the project, he did such good work that his client should pay a bit more for it. After all, his billing rate is awfully low, and his client is awfully rich.

And then he will pad more and more. Every two-minute telephone conversation will go down on his timesheet as 10 minutes, every three-hour research project will go down with an extra quarter-hour or so. He will continue to rationalize his dishonesty to himself in various ways until one day he stops doing even that. And, before long � it won’t take him much more than three or four years � he will be stealing from his clients almost every day, and he won’t even notice it.

As a solo lawyer, I don’t have the pressure to bill a certain number of hours to please my superiors and pay for their BMW’s. My problem with relying upon the billable hour isn’t that I steal from my clients, it is that I steal from myself. I consistently fail to record all my time, and have yet to find a method that allows me to capture it all. It is not the big projects that escape me, but rather the 5 -10 minute projects, letters, and phone calls that happen throughout the day. I have had many 10 hour days with six or fewer hours of billable time. I also feel guilty sometimes about the time it takes me to do something — thinking that I’ve taken too long to complete a project — and I adjust my bill accordingly. Ditching the billable hour entirely gets me away from these problems and moves my practice toward a more fulfilling method of earning a living.

Just One Thing.

I am a procrastinator. However, to paraphrase a common quote, “Procrastination is like masturbation. It seems like a good idea at the time, but in the end, you are only screwing yourself.”

A wise lawyer gave me this idea, which I find to be the best so far at combating my procrastination demons. The lawyer suggests that at the end of each day, compile a full list of everything you need to do. Then write down the one thing that, if you do it tomorrow, will make the most difference in your life. Only one thing. Hide your master list (I’ve been giving mine to my secretary to return each afternoon before I leave) and write that one thing down on a notecard and post it where you will see it before you go to bed and when you wake up– perhaps on your mirror or nightstand. Bring it with you to the office and do it. Once you get it done, reward yourself. Then pick one more thing.

I hate billing by the hour!

I hate billing by the hour. I’m also not very good at it — never have been. I find it very difficult to keep track of my day in six-minute increments. As a solo attorney, I have the flexibility to change the way I bill my clients, and I am resolving to do just that.

Now I know that New Year’s Resolutions are often forgotten before the snow melts, and how many times have we all promised ourselves to improve our personal and professional lives? Well this year for me is going to be different. With God (and the five or six people who will read this) as my witness, I resolve to do the following this year to make my law practice fun again:

I resolve to move all of my practice away from the billable hour — no exceptions. I do not want to keep another timesheet as long as I live.

I resolve to think more and work less. I will take one day off each week to reflect on improving my practice and to recharge my batteries.

I resolve to write more and speak more. I will seek out writing and speaking engangements instead of waiting for them to come to me.

I resolve to make my clients my best sales people. I will offer my clients a completely different legal service experience than they are accustomed to. I will ask them about what they want their lawyer to be, and incorporate their ideas into my practice model. In short, I will astound them.

From this day forward, I will be working with my clients and staff to overhaul the way I practice law. In my blog, I will be sharing my ideas and keeping a log of my progress. Join me as I make practicing law fun again.

The Legal Stuff

While I work on a fancy-schmancy disclaimer, I hope this will work for now. 

Though I am a lawyer, I am not your lawyer.  I do not give legal advice on this weblog and if you think I’m talking directly to you and advising you on an important legal issue in your life, you have larger problems and should seek counseling.  I’m probably not licensed in your state anyway.

I write for myself, I write for fun, and I maintain this weblog so I can have a place to collect all the great ideas and thoughts I have that would otherwise disappear everynight when I finally get to sleep.  All opinions are my own, but many of the ideas I share come from others.  I do the very best I can to give those brilliant people attribution, but if I fail once or twice, I assure you it is not intentional. 

I hope you get great ideas from this weblog — I really do.  Nothing would make me happier than knowing that what I write will help other professioinals serve their clients.  Leave a comment if you have something interesting to share.  If you want to contact me directly, please do so. I love to talk to people who like what I have to say.  If you disagree with me, just e-mail and I may or may not get back to you. My e-mail link and telephone number are in my bio, here.

Thanks for coming.  I’ll leave the light on for you.

About this Blog

In the [non]billable hour, author Matthew Homann (a practicing attorney and mediator) shares hundreds of inventive and original ways to bring meaningful and satisfying change to the practice of law.  The blog focuses on how innovative billing strategies, creative marketing techniques, cutting-edge ideas from other industries and professions, and  proven customer service principles, can combine to revolutionize the ways lawyers serve their clients —  and enjoy their lives.

About Matthew Homann

MH_1_backdrop-web.jpg My name is Matthew W. Homann and I am a lawyer and mediator in Highland, Illinois.  Join me as I work to transform my legal and mediation practices into the job I’ve always dreamed of.

I graduated from Washington University School of Law in 1993 and received my undergraduate degree from the University of Illinois. I remain a licensed, practicing attorney, but devote about half of my time and energy to mediation. As a lawyer, I still maintain a "general" practice, and help people navigate the legal system. I represent individuals planning their estates, taking care of their disabled children, buying and selling their homes, and starting their dream business. I also advise many local companies coping with the many legal challenges all small businesses face.

I am married and the father of a beautiful two-year-old girl. A life-long resident of Highland, Illinois, I am active in many community organizations. I am a member and past-president of the Highland Optimist Club. I also serve on the advisory board of the Korte Recreation Center and am the chairperson of the Highland Zoning Commission.

I am an Adjunct Professor of Law at Washington University Law School in St. Louis, Missouri, where I have been teaching Pre-trial Practice and Procedure since 1998. I have been the volunteer attorney-coach for the Triad High School Mock Trial team since 1996.

If you would like to contact me, e-mail me at Homann (at) or call me on my cell phone at 618-Four Zero Seven-3241