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The Alternative Fee Agreement: Rethinking the Billable Hour


Total General: 1.0 Total Professional Responsibility: 1.0
An overview of the ethical obligations that apply to all fee agreements under the Rules of Professional Conduct as well as a discussion of the ethical considerations when structuring fee arrangements, the benefits of alternative fee agreements and some common types of alternative fee agreements to consider.

Program Objectives:
  • To increase the lawyer's understanding of alternative billing structures to the billable hour.
  • To prepare the lawyer to implement alternative fee arrangements into their law firm fee options by outlining the different types of agreements and their best uses.
  • To increase the lawyer’s knowledge of the benefits of using alternative fee agreements.
  • To prepare the lawyer to utilize alternative fee agreements in their practice.
Mary F. Andreoni, JD, Illinois Attorney Registration and Disciplinary Commission
Jessica Bednarz, JD, Institute for Advancement of the Legal Profession

Chicago Bar Foundation (

  • The Pricing Toolkit 2.0 (2021)
    The Pricing Toolkit contains the following resources: 4-Step Framework & Worksheet; Value Pyramid Worksheet; Fee Arrangement Matrix; Sample Process Maps; Engagement Agreement Checklist; and Sample Engagement Agreement Clauses. For visual and audio learners, the Toolkit can also be accessed via a video formatted free course.
  • Limited Scope Representation Practice Toolkit: This toolkit includes rules, forms, checklists, and sample engagement letters to help Illinois lawyers understand the rules regarding unbundling or limited scope representation and how to incorporate it into their practice.

Illinois State Bar Association (ISBA) Practice HQ (
Resources for lawyers considering expanding their practice to include unbundled services.

  • ABA Formal Op. 11-458 Changing Fee Agreements During Representation (Aug. 2011)
  • ABA Formal Op. 93-379 Bill for Professional Fees, Disbursements and Other Expenses (Dec. 1993)