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:
Looking at the correspondence (review correspondence—.25 hr.).
Making three telephone calls in response to the correspondence (
call, Sara Smith—.25 hr.; phone call, Jack Jones—.25 hr.; phone
call—Dr. Alexander—.25 hr.).
Looking over the pleadings (review pleading—.25 hr.).
Dictating a motion (prepare motion—.25 hr.).
Reading an article on the use of thermography to see if it would help in
your case (research—.5 hr.).
Spending a few minutes rearranging the papers (
reorganize file—.25 hr.).
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: