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Q&A: The billable hour is here to stay, but its monopoly is gone

By DIANA SMITH, Staff Writer



Reyburn W. Lominack III is an associate in the Columbia office of Fisher & Phillips. He represents employers in state, federal and appellate courts, as well as administrative tribunals.

Lominack focuses his practice on Title VII, FMLA, ADA, ADEA and FLSA matters. He also assists employers with traditional labor issues such as union-avoidance campaigns, unfair labor practice charges, grievance arbitrations and collective-bargaining negotiations.

Lominack graduated from the University of South Carolina School of Law in 2004.


SCLW: What is the most unusual thing on your desk or in your office?

Lominack: I have a tissue-paper flower that my 3-year-old son, Benson, made me. He asked me to take it to work, show it to everyone and tell everyone who made it. So I did.


SCLW: If you could write your own professional epitaph, what would it say?

Lominack: “At least he didn’t work himself to death.”


SCLW: What do you think is the most important attribute for a good attorney to have?

Lominack: The most important attribute for a good attorney to have is integrity. We must be able to sleep at night knowing that, regardless of the outcome of a legal matter, we acted morally and ethically in reaching the result.


SCLW: Does the media do a good job of covering legal issues?

Lominack: Generally, yes, but I believe the mainstream media has a tendency to unnecessarily sensationalize legal stories. Corporate defendants, unlike plaintiffs and their attorneys, typically do not comment publicly about a lawsuit. Consequently, the media often only reports what a plaintiff or a plaintiff’s attorney tells them.

The blurb at the end of many reports that the company “has refused to comment” or “would not confirm or deny the allegations” implies to the average reader that the company has done something wrong.


SCLW: Is the billable hour here to stay?

Lominack: The economic downturn has forced many corporate clients to re-evaluate their fee arrangements with outside counsel. I have seen a steady increase over the last few years in alternative proposals, such as phase-based billing, fixed-fee billing and blended rates.

In order to remain competitive in the legal marketplace, we have to understand our clients’ concerns in this regard and be receptive to change. The billable hour does not always reflect the best value for us or our clients.

I believe the billable hour is here to stay, but its monopoly over the way lawyers charge for services has gone by the wayside.


SCLW: If you could look into the future and see a law practice, what would be the most striking difference between then and now?

Lominack: One of the most striking differences will be the absence of paper. Almost all of my communication with clients, opposing counsel and the court is done electronically. In fact, several companies and insurance carriers with whom I work are self-proclaimed “paperless” organizations, meaning that all correspondence with them must be e-mailed.


SCLW: Does South Carolina need more law schools?

Lominack: I think South Carolina’s two law schools produce an appropriate number of attorneys to support the demand for legal services in this state.


SCLW: Why did you want to become a lawyer?

Lominack: I love analytical thinking, I love to write and I love working with people. It was a perfect fit.


Editor’s note: If you would like to participate in a Q&A interview, contact Diana Smith at diana.smith@sc.lawyersweekly.com.

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