As I enter my office and prepare for my day occurs to me how different the beginning of my day is compared to when I worked in a traditional guerrilla hourly billing model. I get my laptop set up on my laptop stand. I dig through my laptop backpack for my power cord and get it plugged in. I find my SIRIUS satellite radio in my pocket and put it into my JVC SIRIUS satellite boom box (I usually listen to a station called Jamon which plays Grateful Dead, Bob Marley and Phish). I grab my coffee cup and cruise across the parking lot to the coffee shop located on site where I am a member of the coffee club. I pick up my coffee and chit-chat with some of the neighbors that I see there every day. I come back into my office and start into my workload.
I remember when I first started working as an independent practitioner that I actually felt anxious about taking the time to plug in my laptop computer each day. It just seemed like it took an inordinate amount of time to accomplish that simple task. It felt as if I was wasting time or losing minutes. I remember back to my hourly life. At the old firm, I would get into my office and make time to go grab a cup of coffee, hurrying down the hall careful not to get sidetracked by conversation with anyone else and hurry back to my desk. I maybe took a minute or three to get into my hourly billing mode, to start tracking time on my time-sheet.
I have said this before and I will say it again hourly billing is just not healthy. It is destructive to the lawyers who are subjected to it. I have always felt that in general that lawyers are a sorry lot. They are anxious, tense and many drink way too much. And, I have always been struck that for all of their power and might that lawyers as a group are phenomenally insecure. I think that a lot of these attributes come out of the culture, not the pressure of being a lawyer. I started out thinking that we needed to change hourly billing for our clients but I am now convinced that we need to overhaul the system for ourselves.