The Florida Bar

Billing: Is Padding Widespread?

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Classification:Billable Hours
Date Published:12/01/1990
Title:Billing: Is Padding Widespread?
Source:ABA Journal/Point-Counterpoint views on Billing

Point-counterpoint on the issue of padding legal bills.
John Doe notes that although he has only been with one firm, he has had glimpses of many billing practices that are not only unethical, but possibly criminal. Padding occurs with attorneys are under the gun to complete a set amount of billing hours. Everyone knows of lawyers who begin work at 8 am and leave at 6 pm, yet bill 10 hours per day--leaving no time for eating lunch, talking to a spouse, working with support staff, reading advance sheets or just taking a breather. Some portion of every day is spent on non-billable matters.
Viewpoint includes value billing and double billing and outright unfair charges to clients such as the time it takes a secretary to generate a word processing document, training time for new associates, and occassionally the time it takes to correct mistakes.
Howard L.Mudrick insists that clients aren't so concerned about the billing as much as they care about the value they get which is why many firms have adopted forms of alternative billing. Most clients have grown accustomed to hourly billing, introduced 25 years ago, which was meant to be a cost-accounting tool, rather than the sole arbiter of billing.
Viewpoint includes value billing and split-fee billing. Mudrick states that there is no doubt that padding does occur, but concludes that the vast amount of lawyers bill ethically and accurately. 2 pages


[Revised: 07-28-2006]