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My Dad was an Insurance Defense Attorney

My Dad was a very successful insurance defense attorney who spent his entire career billing by the hour. I wonder how much of that is responsible for his difficulty in relaxing and his otherwise sarcastic and cynical demeanor. My parents just spent the weekend with us. When you only see your parents a couple of times a year, those events are always challenging. I am trying to make mine more insightful these days. So I wonder again. What kind of psychological damage does billing by the hour do to a person?



I know after only a year in a firm, billing everything by the hour, I would get "cranky" when my wife would call me at work. It came down to this - her call was a .1 or maybe a .2 that I could have captured. When you are trained to track every aspect of your life in 1/10 of an hour (my commute was a .3), any intrusion into it makes you bitter. You are more aware of the passage (slipping) of time and less able to live in the moment.

Traverse City Attorney

I agree. Capturing every minute of every hour creates this sense of urgency and anxiety which is very disabling. I look back at the hourly firms in which I worked and realize how much it hurt me psychologically. Hourly billing is bad for lawyers, their families and any friends they may have left.


I don't think it's the hourly billing, per se, that is to blame but, rather, the increasingly insane billable hours requirements at these firms. If nobody were looking at how many hours you billed, spending 0.1 talking to the spouse would likely cause no stress. It's when your entire value to the firm is measured in these asinine tenth-of-an-hour increments that makes hourly billing such a lead weight on the lawyer's soul.

Oh, the humanity!


Kiwi: Oh how true and amen .... when will lawyers raise up in revolution. Don't they know they are killing themselves?

MI Criminal Defense Lawyer

What Kiwi said - it's not necessarily personal greed that's the issue here, but if you're being evaluated at your firm based on the decimals that you manage to wring out, anyone can be reduced to teeth-chattering stress.

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