- Most attorneys bill chronologically rather than aggregating the charges
for a given task. As attorneys work, they fill out time slips that document the
client, the task, the attorney, and the time spent on the task since the last
time slip was completed. Assume that the attorney is reviewing your file:
- He looks at the correspondence (review correspondence--.25 hr.).
He makes three telephone calls in response to the correspondence
(phone call, Sara Smith--.25 hr.; phone call, Jack Jones--.25 hr.; phone
call--Dr. Alexander--.25 hr.).
He looks over the pleadings (review pleading--.25 hr.).
He dictates a motion (prepare motion--.25 hr.).
He reads an article on the use of thermography to see if it would help
in your case (research--.5 hr.).
He spends a few minutes rearranging the papers (reorganize file--.25
This single work session generates eight billing entries, most of which are
for the law firm's minimum billing increment, a quarter-hour. None of these
entries is of value in determining the status of the case.
- Legal bills also fail to give the client proper information on the cost
of the discrete elements of the case. The information is in the bills, but it
is just not aggregated in time. Assume that you want to know the cost of a
deposition. The monthly charges for a deposition might resemble the following:
Telephone conference with an expert: 1 May--0.5 hr.
Research on the factual issues: 15 May--0.75 hr.
Research on the factual issues: 21 May--1.5 hr.
Phone calls to schedule the deposition: 30 May--.25 hr.
Research on the factual issues: 30 June--1.0 hr.
Phone calls to schedule the deposition: 10 June--.25 hr.
Research on the factual issues: 12 July--.5 hr.
Research on the factual issues: 14 July--.75 hr.
Phone calls to schedule the deposition: 13 July--.5 hr.
Research on the factual issues: 1 August--.5 hr.
Review the file before the deposition: 21 August.--2.5 hr.
Predeposition client conference: 10 September--2.0 hr.
Travel to deposition: 11 September--3.5 hr.
Take deposition: 11 September--5.5 hr.
Return from deposition: 12 September--3.5 hr.
Summarize deposition: 10 October--1.5 hr (paralegal).
Court reporter's bill: 10 November--$637.00.
Charge for airline tickets: 12 November--$560.00.
Charge for hotel room and meals: 12 November--$150.00.
Review deposition summary: 30 November--1.0 hr.
This deposition accounts for nineteen billing entries spread over seven
monthly bills. If this is a typical litigation case, these seven bills may each
have 150 other entries. It would easily take an hour to locate and tabulate the
entries for this single deposition. It would be impossible to tabulate them in
most bills because the individual entries do not reference the deposition that
they are associated with. Importantly, each monthly bill has had more charges
for the deposition. The client has no way to know how long these charges will