- Calling a client who doesn’t have a live project to find out how they or their company are doing and then sending a bill to the client for the time spent on the phone.
- Offering to pay for a lunch with the client and then sticking that as a “cost” item on the bill.
- Billing time that doesn’t add any value to the matter.
- Billing for cover letters which contain no substance or analysis.
- Billing the client time when they question the bill.
As you all know, I’m not much of a fan of hourly billing. Sometimes, we do it in litigation as part of a blended arrangement where we share risk with the client. This can either be a flat fee cap or a contingency fee component to hourly work. But a story I heard from a client the other day got me thinking. What are the worst billing practices used by lawyers? Here’s my list:
This New York Times Article, by Randall Stross, points out what should be obvious to everyone at this point. Different websites and web applications compete for attention on the internet. As more and more people gravitate towards Facebook, they have less need to start blogs or create their own websites. Further, people who do have blogs are increasingly posting links in Facebook, rather than doing blog posts. What does this mean for lawyers who have expertise to share with the world?
In an article entitled, “Remember the $60, 8-Word E-Mail? Client Shares Hard-Learned Legal Cost-Control Tips,” Martha Neil writing for the ABA Journal, recapped the story of Jennifer Walzer and offered some tips to consumers for avoiding the high costs sometimes associated with legal fees.
Jennifer Walzer needed help with reviewing a standard sublease between her and her landlord. She was referred to a firm consisting of 10-15 lawyers. The firm requested a $2,500 retainer fee and said that the total fee probably would not exceed that amount. However, Walzer ended up being charged $6,450 for the review of the sublease agreement, including $60 for a courtesy email to her from the partner saying, “I hope everything is O.K. Take your time.”
To put this into perspective; her landlord was able to hire legal representation to draft and revise the lease agreement for a total of $1,100. Jennifer’s original post can be found here.
With the advent of the internet and growing new technologies, attorneys need not be bound to the structure of a "brick and mortar" business model. Lawyers can now reach out to potential clients and resources through the use of extranets, cloud based software platforms, and network legal information as well as better communicate with current clientele over the internet. Richard Granat joins Damien Allen to discuss "The Virtual Law Firm"
Announcer: Welcome to GAL Radio brought to you by the Greatest American Lawyer blog, changing the way law is practiced through technology, innovation and creativity. Turning the business of law on its head and shaking things up to the betterment of clients, lawyers, law firms and society. Now here’s your host, Damien Allen.
Damien Allen: Good afternoon and welcome to GAL Radio. My name is Damien Allen and joining me today on the phone is Attorney Richard S. Granat of Directlaw.com and Mylawyer.com. He’s also the Chair of the Elawyering Task Force of the Law Practice Management Section of the American Bar Association, and today we’re discussing delivering online legal services and how to set up an operative virtual law practice, and I know the American Bar Association is issuing guidelines as the major focus for them. Richard, welcome to the program.
Attorney Richard S. Granat: Hi, Damien. Good afternoon.
Damien Allen: Pleasure to have you on the show today, sir. Could you please tell us what is a virtual law practice?
Attorney Richard S. Granat: Well, a virtual law firm is really characterized by access to the law firm through what we call a client portal where clients can sign on with a username and password. It’s not like a typical website that you see which just has the lawyers biographies and some legal information, but is really a platform under which the law firm can actually deliver legal services to the client and relate to the client online, collaborate with the client, give legal advice online. It’s essentially a vehicle for online legal services, and this is something new. We sign onto our bank or we do our brokerage online, we do our travel online, but law firms are not really done that before. They haven’t had what we call a secure client portal where the client could actually sign on to the law firm.
Here's an interesting ABA Journal article about the use of the iPad at trial. Attorney and Partner Peter Summer of Hasenyager & Summerill used his iPad along with the application Keynote to prepare and present all documents at the trial. Read about his experience here.
Related Articles: Great Mac Apps for Lawyers
Related Articles: Great Mac Apps for Lawyers