In 1920 William G. Graves, a St. Paul lawyer, delivered a paper on fees at the annual convention of the Minnesota State Bar Association. He prepared his remarks in the wake of recommendations by the Hennepin County and Ramsey County Bar Associations for the adoption of minimum fee schedules. Graves was a proponent of "minimum fee bills" as a means of raising fees in certain cases to levels that will enable lawyers to make a decent living.
This was a time when lawyers charged flat fees for handling many types of cases. He does not mention contingency fees or billing a client by the hour, though he strongly urges lawyers to keep time records in each case that can be used to set appropriate fees in the future.
Few legal historians have explored developments of the business side of the practice of law. Here Graves's paper provides some insight into the primitive understanding of law office economics in the 1920s. He deplores lawyers' inefficiency, their failure to establish even rudimentary business practices such as maintaining "books of account" and so on.