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In Defense of the Billable Hour

It is fashionable to condemn the billable hour as the scourge of the legal profession. No less an authority than author and litigator Scott Turow recently declared: The Billable Hour Must Die. Just this week, the online magazine Slate condemned The Scourge of the Billable Hour. But at the blog, Brian J. Ritchey asks, "What has the billable hour ever done to deserve such lament?"

Sure, Ritchey is a vice president at Juris, a LexisNexis-owned company that sells time-and-billing software to lawyers. But his point is worth considering: Attorneys despise hourly billing because they are undisciplined about it. Their lack of discipline not only makes timekeeping a chore, but it also causes clients to distrust their bills. Plenty of attorneys, Ritchey writes, have no problem with billing. What makes them different? "They enter time as work is performed. They use timers. And they are disciplined," he says.

By wrapping the tasks you perform inside of a time entry and utilizing timers, you won't over charge and you won't need to discount your time.  Better, you won't need to reconstruct your time entries later, wasting billable time and invariably leaving billable work unrecorded (and unbillable).

No doubt, Scott Turow would see it differently. "If I had only one wish for our profession from the proverbial genie," he wrote, "I would want us to move toward something better than dollars times hours."

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on January 8, 2008 at 01:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (3)


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