The Florida Bar

Enter Time Billing-Exit Professionalism

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Classification:Billable Hours
Date Published:05/01/1991
Title:Enter Time Billing-Exit Professionalism
Source:Robert E. Hicks

Hicks speaks of the changes in law and professionalism through personal experience. The re-focus of a lawyer's work from courthouse oriented to business oriented; the shift away from the common law approach to the statutory approach, mergers and acquisitions resulting in the disappearance of long-time clients, mergers of law firms themselves, multi-city and multi-country, full-service law firms with Chinese walls, marketing and advertising for business, overt and shameless client wooing and partner-stealing. Judicial paranoia has grown to such an extent that fine judges are afraid to be seen swapping jokes with friends of a lifetime lest they be thought to be engaged in a prohibited ex-parte contact; law clerks insulating the bench from the attorneys and litigants; searches and shake-downs of attorneys and citizens entering the courthouses; fork-lifts and wheelbarrowns to haul pleadings and exhibits; and the disappearance of oral arguments except when specially authorized.
Hicks indicates that the most radical change in law for him in 40 years of practice has been the introduction of the billable hour. Hicks believes the billable hour to be a curse--with us like a chronic illness, for us to live with or die from.
Attorneys all know that every fee must be justified and in trying to place a monetary value on legal fees and the fairness of the fees themselves we are left with defining the real factors which govern the relationship between the business of the law practice and the profession of the law practice.


[Revised: 07-28-2006]