If it seems like everywhere you go these days someone is talking about alternative fee arrangements, you’re not alone. It’s been a popular topic at legal conferences and workshops for a few years now, but have they really taken off? And what exactly is an AFA — do flat fees or discounts count?
David Felicissimo is one general counsel who wonders that a lot. Last year, he completed an executive education certificate at Harvard Law School where AFAs were a frequent topic of conversation among his colleagues. As the “only legal officer” in a growing Montreal private investment company, Felicissimo works for an organization that specializes in the acquisition and development of Internet-based businesses — their assets are on the web and their audience is worldwide. His very new-economy company still does a lot of work with external counsel based on the old billable hour.
“It’s a topic we talk about often when I speak to other general counsel,” says Felicissimo, general counsel at Valnet Inc. “At Valnet, we’re still using the billable hour with our primary firm in Canada — we have a great relationship with them and we’ve been working with them for eight years.”