Faculty Announcement – Jay Shepherd

Jay Shepherd runs Shepherd Law Group, the Boston employer law firm that completely replaced the billable hour with fixed pricing. He will teach a course called “Fixing Your Fees, Fixing Your Practice” at Solo Practice University®.

Jay has been protecting employers in and out of court for 16 years, and he’s defeated some of the largest law firms in the country. He’s nationally known for his expertise in noncompete lawsuits and related business-employment litigation. Jay has defended employers large and small in discrimination cases in state and federal courts. He has taught seminars to thousands of employees, managers, and other lawyers on employment-law topics from sexual harassment to wage litigation. Law & Politics magazine has called him one of the “Top 100 lawyers in New England.”

Jay writes two award-winning blogs. The Client Revolution, which the ABA Journal named to its “Blawg 100” list of the one hundred best law bogs, is dedicated to killing the billable the hour and bringing value to the practice of law. His employer blog, Gruntled Employees, focuses on teaching employers how to have easier workplaces. Human Resource Executive magazine named it “Best HR Law Site.”

Jay graduated from Johns Hopkins University and Boston College Law School. He’s admitted in Massachusetts and in the federal courts including the U.S. Supreme Court. He currently serves as the management-side chair of the Boston Bar Association’s Labor and Employment Section.

Jay’s married to an employment lawyer at another Boston firm and has two young daughters (who are not employment lawyers). Jay’s written a 700-page draft of a legal thriller, which someday he may have time to finish editing. You know, in his spare time.


Course objective

To show solo and small-firm lawyers how they can improve their practices by trashing the billable hour and learning how to properly price their services, giving them an advantage over their competitors and allowing them to dramatically increase the value of the services they provide to their clients.

Who should attend

Any lawyer who is interested in abandoning the billable hour but doesn’t know how to actually go about doing it. This course is for lawyers who want real-world-tested nuts-and-bolts knowledge rather than fancy theory and lip service. While employment lawyers will find it most useful, since many of the examples come from Jay’s employment-litigation practice, almost any solo or small-firm lawyer will take away lessons that he or she can apply to any kind of practice.

Course outline

  • Why hourly billing is bad for your clients … and for you
  • Understanding value, costs, profit, and price
  • Why I hate the term “alternative billing”
  • Exposing the impostors — the false alternatives
  • Why you need to have a zero-tolerance policy for timesheets
  • How to set your prices
  • Whether to look at old bills
  • Why you shouldn’t reverse engineer hourly rates
  • About menus and commodity pricing
  • Figuring out what the market will bear, and where your place in the market lies
  • Why it helps to have a pricing committee
  • Drawing up the fixed-price agreement
  • Avoiding scope creep
  • Handling change orders, and when not to use them
  • Shifting risk away from the client
  • When to set the price
  • Pricing mistakes: how to fix some, and how to live with others
  • Ethical issues
  • How to price employment litgation
  • How to price transactional work
  • How to price advice work
  • What about fixed prices outside of employment law?
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