Tuesday, February 24, 2009

How to overbill a client

From an article in Lawjobs.com titled "The Art of Overbilling" here is a list of eight routine overbilling scams that litigators use. What is scary about this is, is that many lawyers actually think these are justified.

1. Tell clients they're more exposed than they actually are. That way they'll be willing to spend more on their defense. Any potential settlement will also likely look like a win from a client's perspective and that means more in fees!

2. Embrace document review, the mother lode of law firm billables. Hire temp or staff attorneys and bill the client at normal associate rates.

3. Raise your hand and "volunteer." The lawyer who crafts the initial version of any document for all parties "gets the lion's share of billable time out of the project." If a client asks why you're always willing to spend all day on some mundane filing, just say you want to control the process so they're protected.

4. Don't be afraid to double dip. Travel time is billable time, often for two or more clients at the same time.

5. Be a jackass. Angering opposing counsel is a proven, easy way to ensure a protracted legal battle. Always communicate in writing, which takes more time, instead of simply using the phone.

6. Cut-and-paste, but act original. Almost every brief has been written before. Except the one you're about to copy.

7. Let clients play lawyer if they want, even if they're spouting nonsensical arguments that would never hold up in court. Just close your eyes and listen to the clock tick.

8. Big words = big bills. Promissory estoppel? Statutory preclusion? Sounds important, right? Sometimes it is. Other times ... not so much. But most clients don't speak legalese. If they call and demand an explanation, talk them through it. It's all billable time, baby.

1 comment:

  1. "Don't be afraid to double dip. Travel time is billable time, often for two or more clients at the same time."

    I understood that we went over this in class and that jurisdictions are divided on the matter. But two *or more* during travel time? How is that possible?