Well, it beats just making it up

It was revealed earlier this year that top law firms are charging clients as much as £1,000 an hour, meaning a six minute toilet break could cost up to £100.

Nabarro’s ‘Time Recording Policy’, which was leaked to legal website RollOnFriday earlier this year, read: “Any short break, e.g. coffee break, of up to six minutes should still be recorded to the matter you are currently working on, on the basis that you would still be thinking about it”.

Making it up being what some have accused legal firms of doing.

17 thoughts on “Well, it beats just making it up”

  1. Interesting proposition. Should they therefore be deducting a tenner for when the pigeon landed on the windowsill & fifty quid for the period the secretary with the big norks was in the room.

  2. It’s quality not quantity that counts, hours spent is just an easy way to justify the total cost

    My last solicitor tried to charge me £10 for each telephone call I made to him complaining that he wouldn’t release the money he owed me

  3. I wish my IP lawyer (over £1000 per hour, partner, London firm) would do my conveyancing work instead of the local solicitors. Probably works out cheaper, would be done quicker (how do they take so long?) and no “waiting” for someone else to do something.

    For the work he does do, it’s a bargain. Incoming legal threats batted away in a single letter, outgoing actions all won.

  4. @Julian Howe
    How familiar that sounds. My late father’s solicitor billed well north of £30k for administering his affairs under a power of attorney. for 18 months. No legal work. whatsoever. Just arranging for payments for domestic bills & care employees. When I returned to the UK & took responsibility, the whole lot took an hour a month.
    But if you bill in 15 minute increments at a legal rate of £230/hour …

  5. My first solicitor apologised when he had to charge me his firm’s standard rate for buying a flat for me, so he chucked in a will free.

  6. Some one ought to take a solicitor to court over their billing systems. They can bill for more hours than there are in the working day – how is this not fraud?

  7. “Some one ought to take a solicitor to court over their billing systems.”

    Represented by……..?

  8. “Represented by……..?”

    Well there’s the problem isn’t it? What one needs is a lawyer who has seen the light (perhaps in or near retirement) and wishes to atone for his previous life of corruption by doing some good for once.

    I’m afraid I have an very dim view of the legal profession. Give me an honest criminal any day, at least they don’t pretend to be on your side.

  9. A lot of this nonsense comes about through ridiculous billing pressure on the workers – I work in a more civilised field, also billed by the hour, where in general if you’re billing half your presence time you’re doing very well indeed. At my new job, they told me to chill out and bill less, even, cos I had to keep it up for another 30 years and they wanted me to make it!

    When I talk to lawyer friends and their firms’ billing policies… jesus wept. No wonder they often end up on amphetamines / coke, working silly hours and burning out like traders. Either that, or they develop a totally blasé attitude to cost and billing…..

  10. @ dearieme
    When I first wanted to draw up a will I asked a solicitor friend, who declined as his fee (he was one of the senior partners in a City firm) would be too high and recommended a young, recently qualified solicitor at a respectable but less prestigious firm who attended the same church. I got a more sophisticated will, doing what I actually wanted, at a lower cost than the ones I and my wife have had since I got married.
    Some solicitors have moral standards and a sense of fair play/a fair’s day’s work for a fair day’s pay.

  11. Couple of things to consider.

    1. If your firm charges a thousand pounds an hour you’d think they could comp toilet breaks.

    2. Maybe they do and that thousand pound charge would be higher if they required their people to account for niggling little details like that on their timesheets.

  12. A lot of this nonsense comes about through ridiculous billing pressure on the workers …

    We get this at work. Our old dept. head used to hold all these lengthy useless meetings and then tell us to bill the hours to a project rather than overhead. I wonder how many poor sods are paying charge-out rates for lawyers to attend mandatory diversity awareness courses?

  13. @Agammamon, Tim Newman,

    Rule 1 of management is to avoid perverse incentives. A lot of these billing pressure issues result in incentives to lie and cheat the system by “making it up”, since it’s that or suffer a breakdown, or miss your targets and get fired. Not a great way to instill trust and confidence in mgt.

    However, this is unfortunately largely the norm. And I’m so glad I’m out of “corporate” and no longer have such pressures.

  14. I was once ordered to charge time to projects on a per minute basis and they demanded total accuracy. So toilet breaks were “break”, questions from co worker on another task/project even for a couple of minutes needed to be accounted for and assigned to their project.

    3.5 and 3 HOURS across the first two days allocated solely to “Completing Timesheets” soon sorted that policy out (malicious compliance).

  15. @Justin,

    My small “win” at my previous place wasn’t quite so awesome as that – it was simply the question “under what code do I enter the time spent entering all the time?” To which, of course, there was no answer.

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