Lawyer Billing And Compensation

Having spent several years “doing time”  in large law firms I can tell you that the whole concept of lawyer billing and compensation  inside law firms leave much to be desired for clients.   Everybody suspects it.   And here’s the truth…Partners who bring in the work get credit for that and their compensation is largely based on it.  But for everyone else compensation is based on billed hours and at least 10 a day is expected. The problem is (a) these worker bees often don’t understand or care about the actual client relationship nor see things – including the matter – from the client perspective (ever heard about someone paying $50K in legal fees for a $10K issue?) and (b) many lawyers don’t keep their time sheets as they go.  Some fill them in at the end of the day and guess how long they worked on what matter.  Others filled the out weekly or even monthly, trying to recall what they did for whom and when.  That’s why I always tell folks to make sure we soon as a lawyer is done with your matter that you get the bill and make sure the files’ off his desk…if it’s still there you’re bound to get billed for something as he struggles to figure out where his billable time went and inevitably comes up short.  Another tip, make sure you know who’s working on your matter, what his qualifications are.   Department and office heads and senior lawyers often are responsible for keeping everyone busy,  so it’s not unusual for work to be assigned based on who has nothing to do rather than who is most qualified.   Chapter 7 in Financial Fresh Start is all about tips for choosing the right professionals, including lawyers, and making sure you get what you pay for.  Click here to read more.

Shari Olefson's picture
Shari Olefson

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