The Florida Bar

Ten Ways (Some) Lawyers (Sometimes) Fudge Bills

Professionalism Resource Database

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Classification:Billable Hours
Date Published:01/13/1995
Title:Ten Ways (Some) Lawyers (Sometimes) Fudge Bills
Source:Wall Street Journal/Lawyers & Clients/Amy Stevens

Recognizing Red Flags :
1.Some firms will only provide only initials instead instead of names which could indicate low-level operatives such as ass't librarians, are making their way into the tab.Clients should demand to know each and every person on the invoice.
2. Meetings, with only one person present.
3. Some firms are notorious for charging clients a pro rata share of overhead.
4. Paul McMenaman who owns a database auditing company reports that most Senior Partners take Friday afternoons off. If there a clients bill shows a senior partner working on a Friday, "it's suspicious".
5.Look for signs of the attorney billing for increments of time no less than 30 minutes.
6.The words "attention to", means the attorney can't think of anything better to come up with. He's been doing other things while he has been working on the clients case.
7. A staff change is suspect. The client shouldn't have to pay for re-education of a new attorney who has taken over the case.
8.Billing for billing time. Clients should not have to pay for bill preparation.
9.Being over qualified for the job. A charge of $245 an hour for "preparing the closing room" which was making sure there was coffee and pencils in the room and physically putting the documents on the table. Beware of clerical tasks, including photocopying by the attorney, billed at attorney rates.
10. Check the math. Auditors say lawyers don't add correctly.
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[Revised: 06-30-2004]