Billing

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kalvano
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Joined: Mon Sep 07, 2009 2:24 am

Billing

Postby kalvano » Wed May 16, 2012 11:41 am

So, this is probably a dumbass question, but I've never worked at a civil firm before. I know that every hour you're present is not a billable hour, but what constitutes acceptable billing? I'm sure talking on the phone with a client is billable, as is drafting a motion. But what about reading previous motions and briefs to get caught up on a case? Is that billable?

I've read that every billable hour is about 1.75 actual hours, so where does that extra 45 minutes per hour go? If I spend from 10:00 - 11:00 reading case motions and trial transcripts and do it for a solid hour, is that an hour I can bill?


I don't actually have to bill much, if any, at my firm. I'm just curious in general.

Anonymous User
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Re: Billing

Postby Anonymous User » Wed May 16, 2012 11:56 am

Lots of times, it depends on the client.

Anonymous User
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Re: Billing

Postby Anonymous User » Wed May 16, 2012 12:31 pm

kalvano wrote:So, this is probably a dumbass question, but I've never worked at a civil firm before. I know that every hour you're present is not a billable hour, but what constitutes acceptable billing? I'm sure talking on the phone with a client is billable, as is drafting a motion. But what about reading previous motions and briefs to get caught up on a case? Is that billable?

I've read that every billable hour is about 1.75 actual hours, so where does that extra 45 minutes per hour go? If I spend from 10:00 - 11:00 reading case motions and trial transcripts and do it for a solid hour, is that an hour I can bill?


I don't actually have to bill much, if any, at my firm. I'm just curious in general.


If it was related to a case and you honestly did the work, including background research u mentioned, bill it. It is the partners job to decide what to pass thru and what to write off. If you don't bill it and you're wrong (aka client would have paid), you wasted your time AND you looked unproductive.

Don't get ahead of your pay grade. You do it, you bill it.

SpiteFence
Posts: 131
Joined: Mon Nov 01, 2010 12:26 pm

Re: Billing

Postby SpiteFence » Wed May 16, 2012 12:37 pm

Also know that some firms distinguish billable hours for bonus purposes and hours that are actually billed to clients. From what I've seen, they tend to line up pretty well, although theirs some activities that you can get billable credit for that is not billed directly to a client. All depends on the firm.

Anonymous User
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Re: Billing

Postby Anonymous User » Wed May 16, 2012 12:37 pm

My summer firm had lengthy guidelines on what should and should not be billed, and how precisely to describe it (e.g. use "telephone conference," not "phone call"). I suspect that's the case at most large firms. Unless you do something truly embarrassing (take a week to write a one-page memo, for example), you should err on the side of billing and let the partner worry about what to send to the client.

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kalvano
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Re: Billing

Postby kalvano » Wed May 16, 2012 12:46 pm

I'm working for a mid-size firm, and they actually use me so as not to have to bill clients for attorney time.

I was more just curious as to how it works in a regular setting.

Miller32
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Joined: Fri Jul 29, 2011 1:51 pm

Re: Billing

Postby Miller32 » Wed May 16, 2012 4:54 pm

Not an attorney, but am working at a firm where I bill my time. They say 1 billable hour equals 1.75 real hours because of built-in inefficiency. It's hard/impossible to sit there for 8 to 9 straight hours actually doing billable work. More likely is you work on a project for an hour or two, grab a cup of coffee and chat for a few minutes, then get back to work.

That's why people use the 1:1.75 ratio. It's not like if you work on something for 1.75 hours you're supposed to discount what you've done or anything.

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rinkrat19
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Re: Billing

Postby rinkrat19 » Wed May 16, 2012 5:15 pm

The partner I had an informational lunch with yesterday said that she bills about 65% of her time (she's transactional), and the litigation side of the office bills more like 85%.

TooOld4This
Posts: 638
Joined: Sat Jul 23, 2011 11:09 am

Re: Billing

Postby TooOld4This » Wed May 16, 2012 9:58 pm

Billing most of your time is ridiculously easy as a summer associate. Your assignments are spoonfed, your schedule planned. You don't have much admin that needs to be done. You generally have planned (and recordable) events. You are also doing it for a finite period of time.

When it is your job, the admin time goes up. You waste time doing personal things at work or talking to people. You lose time transitioning from matter to matter. You have people ask to talk through issues with you informally. You have to hunt down work. You have to be at work while you wait for people up the totem pole to get back to you.

In short, if you aren't recording the vast majority of your time as a summer, you are doing it wrong.

bdubs
Posts: 3729
Joined: Sat Feb 06, 2010 2:23 pm

Re: Billing

Postby bdubs » Wed May 16, 2012 11:32 pm

Report your time honestly and let the partner decide whether to bill it.

I haven't worked in a law firm yet either, but the consulting firm I worked at would be pissed at associates for making their own billing decisions. If someone tells you that a task is not billable then you don't bill it, otherwise you bill everything and let them decide what to pass through.




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