Thought Leader: Attorney Shakes Up Concept of Billable Hours

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Trey Nantz has some pretty strong – and progressive – views on how to shake up the legal profession. Three years ago, Nantz opened his own small firm so he could get back to the roots of the profession as problem solvers for the public.
Somewhere along the way, lawyers lost sight of that role and Nantz says the concept of billable hours is largely to blame. In many situations, especially on the civil side, lawyers should be able to provide clients with a flat fee for a specific legal service.
When it comes to real estate transactions, contracts and wills, there’s no reason lawyers can’t figure out what they are spending from a time and resource standpoint, Nantz says.
“If I’m just selling you hours, it’s to my benefit to sell you as many hours as possible,” he adds.
Instead, lawyers should be solving their clients’ problems in the most effective and efficient way possible. He recognizes this doesn’t apply to every situation, but a flat rate can work for many legal transactions.
“If you focus on the billable hour you reduce what should be a much deeper relationship with your client to six-minute increments,” Nantz says.
At Nantz Law Firm, two attorneys give their clients as much up-front pricing as possible. If someone calls or comes in for a consultation, Nantz says they can get a good understanding of the client’s needs and then provide a solid estimate for services.
By avoiding the billable hour, clients feel free to call with a question because they aren’t afraid that 4-minute phone call will come with a $200 invoice.
One way Nantz can successfully execute this philosophy is by working closely with professional partners. Instead of hiring several specialists and supporting a large office and staff, he simply pulls in a specialized CPA, tax lawyer or a business valuation expert to create a support team for his clients.
“Instead of the old model of having 50 attorneys on staff, we’ll build the team for your needs,” he says. “It’s a tailored approach. You’re getting a very individual approach and fair pricing. We’re trying to make it as accessible to everyone as possible. There’s no reason for someone to be priced out of having even a simple will.”
Moving away from the billable hour concept is a fairly progressive idea, Nantz says, but it is starting to catch on with larger firms, particularly on the West Coast.
Clients, though, are quick to embrace a better way of billing.
“People are surprised by how simple it is. It’s a fee for service,” Nantz says. “It really is that simple. We will tell you what we’re going to do, how long we expect it to take and what it costs.”
Nantz Law Firm serves clients all around the state of South Carolina with offices in Rock Hill and Charleston. Trey Nantz grew up in North Carolina and moved to Charleston to attend the College of Charleston. He was part of the second graduating class from the Charleston School of Law. Nantz Law Firm helps veterans by providing low-cost or no-cost estate plans and wills through Mr. Nantz’ service as a JAG attorney with the South Carolina State Guard. A former Eagle Scout, Nantz also volunteers with the Boy Scouts.
To learn more about Nantz Law Firm, visit online at CJNLaw.com or call (803) 327-6200.