Being innovative counts towards billable targets, CMS tells lawyers

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By Thomas Connelly on

Follows similar creativity-boosting moves by Reed Smith and Mishcon de Reya

Lawyers at CMS have been told that time spent being innovative can count towards their billing targets.

The international outfit says the new initiative, dubbed ‘Innovation Hours’, aims to encourage and reward new ideas that will enhance the services it delivers to its clients.

As part of this, CMS lawyers can count a number of hours spent on “approved innovation projects” towards their annual billing targets. Legal Cheek’s Firms Most List shows that CMS is one a growing number of law firms that chooses not to disclose the billing targets of its lawyers.

Approved projects will, the firm says, have a clear business benefit, be within sensible time and cost boundaries, and be within budget.

The fresh approach to billing was born from ‘#hacks’, CMS’s “ideas sharing portal”, that aims to encourage, incentivise and develop new ideas from everyone in the firm.

“Innovation is built into both the structure and strategy of our firm and we’re committed to setting a new standard in legal innovation”, Stephen Millar, managing partner at CMS, said. “We’ve had overwhelming engagement from our people following the launch of #hacks and have seen first-hand that nurturing innovation pays dividends. We want to build a culture of innovation across CMS that is practical, accessible and valued.”

The 2020 Legal Cheek Firms Most List

He continued: “A big part of this is encouraging and recognising the effort that everyone puts into making things better. Innovation Hours is an investment in this central component of our culture, bringing with it a welcome update on what billed hours targets represent for the firm.”

This isn’t the first time a big City player has told its lawyer to get innovative with their billing hours.

Following a successful pilot, Reed Smith rolled out a new scheme last May in which lawyers can allocate up to 50 ‘Innovation Hours’ of their annual billable target to time spent working on innovative projects or products. Meanwhile, a group of lawyers in Mishcon de Reya’s London office have had their billable hours cut by 20% to encourage them to be more innovative.

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