Billing Hours Minimum Help

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Billing Hours Minimum Help

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Jun 02, 2019 9:00 am

What are billing minimums at firms? Does every firm have them, or what kind of firms have them? For example, (as it was explained to me) if something takes me 4 hours to do, as a first-year associate, I can only bill about 2 hours for it because of the minimum time that the firm employs and charges the client 2 hours for it and/or insurance company.

Can someone also explain it too me in detail.

This question is not about billing minimum target hours, etc., (although any advice on that would help too) but rather about how billing on a daily basis works or may work at some firm. Recently started in small Bay Area firm doing civ. lit. Need help!

If the firm does employ such billing minimums/cuts, how do I meet the actual minimum hours of about 1900-1950 a week then while staying a bit over to please the partners. This is a small law (9-12 attys) practice btw.

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cavalier1138

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Re: Billing Hours Minimum Help

Postby cavalier1138 » Sun Jun 02, 2019 9:45 am

Anonymous User wrote:For example, (as it was explained to me) if something takes me 4 hours to do, as a first-year associate, I can only bill about 2 hours for it because of the minimum time that the firm employs and charges the client 2 hours for it and/or insurance company.


It may depend on your firm, but that doesn't sound right. The actual hours the client gets billed may be cut, but that usually doesn't affect the attorney's billable hours calculation with respect to the firm requirements. I assume that if you start to develop a pattern of billing too much time, that could change things.

You should ask whoever is in charge of these things at your firm, but I have a hard time believing that they punish junior associates for an executive decision to shave time off the client's bill if the requirement is 1900+.

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Re: Billing Hours Minimum Help

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Jun 02, 2019 9:56 am

Really? Would it matter if it was an Insurance Defense practice primarily?

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cavalier1138

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Re: Billing Hours Minimum Help

Postby cavalier1138 » Sun Jun 02, 2019 10:56 am

Anonymous User wrote:Really? Would it matter if it was an Insurance Defense practice primarily?


I've never heard of the insurance defense exception to billable hours calculations, but ask someone at your firm. You're not going to get in trouble for asking about how billable hours are calculated.

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Re: Billing Hours Minimum Help

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Jun 02, 2019 2:04 pm

Sounds good, I will.

What I’m saying is if you work for ins. defense firm, the ins. company is the one who pays you.

As a first year, it may take one longer to get a motion done. The insurance companies have minimums they pay for/you can bill for. Let’s say a MSJ should be done by 3 hours (according to what ins. company will only pay for) and let’s say it takes me 4. Just an example. I’m not sure how my billables work then. If I really put 4 hours into the MSJ, I hope that counts toward the 1900 and not the 3; however, I am only allowed to bill for the 3 more than likely. I’m losing good quality time for this.... because the firm as a whole will get paid for 3 hours but I really worked 4. Even though I worked 4, I only billed 3 as well.


Does that makes sense? If someone who knows more about ID firms, let me know, generally how it works.

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Re: Billing Hours Minimum Help

Postby sparty99 » Sun Jun 02, 2019 2:14 pm

Anonymous User wrote:Sounds good, I will.

What I’m saying is if you work for ins. defense firm, the ins. company is the one who pays you.

As a first year, it may take one longer to get a motion done. The insurance companies have minimums they pay for/you can bill for. Let’s say a MSJ should be done by 3 hours (according to what ins. company will only pay for) and let’s say it takes me 4. Just an example. I’m not sure how my billables work then. If I really put 4 hours into the MSJ, I hope that counts toward the 1900 and not the 3; however, I am only allowed to bill for the 3 more than likely. I’m losing good quality time for this.... because the firm as a whole will get paid for 3 hours but I really worked 4. Even though I worked 4, I only billed 3 as well.


Does that makes sense? If someone who knows more about ID firms, let me know, generally how it works.


That is quite common for insurance companies, they are cheap. For example, if you have a research assignment you can only bill for 2 hours of research or you can't bill for anything over 2 hours without client permission, so you would have to have two entries and word them differently if it actually took you say, 4 hours. You just have to get creative with time entry.

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Re: Billing Hours Minimum Help

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Jun 02, 2019 3:04 pm

I worked at a firm that gave credit only for “hours billed” which is essentially hours the client pays (or is at least supposed to pay). It was a really unfair system especially when you had insured work like employment cases with EPLI. At that firm if you had, for example, billed 5 hours on an assignment that could only have 3 hours billed to the client, then you’d only get credit for 3 hours. If you’re in a situation like this I recommend getting out immediately. These types of firms usually try to attract associates by selling a lower billable threshold (1700-1800) but have cryptic calculations like the one I just went over. Basically you end up billing just as much as you would at a reputable firm that gives you credit for all billable hours.

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Re: Billing Hours Minimum Help

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Jun 02, 2019 3:12 pm

OP here, so are most primary ins defense firms like this? You either have to learn to work fast or you will be there longer, as in 10 actual billable hours a day, but only get to bill 8 actual hours for what the ins. company is willing to pay, even though you worked 10 actual billable hours? The two billable hours go to waste essentially and don’t end up counting towards your target 1900 minimum either.

Also, Sparty, would you care to explain in detail, please? Thanks

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Re: Billing Hours Minimum Help

Postby RaceJudicata » Sun Jun 02, 2019 3:50 pm

I think a good place to start is to just bill the time you spend working on each matter. Every minute, no more, no less. Then ASK someone at your firm how minimum hours are calculated. I don’t think this forum can help you very much on this firm specific question.

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Re: Billing Hours Minimum Help

Postby sparty99 » Sun Jun 02, 2019 4:25 pm

Anonymous User wrote:OP here, so are most primary ins defense firms like this? You either have to learn to work fast or you will be there longer, as in 10 actual billable hours a day, but only get to bill 8 actual hours for what the ins. company is willing to pay, even though you worked 10 actual billable hours? The two billable hours go to waste essentially and don’t end up counting towards your target 1900 minimum either.

Also, Sparty, would you care to explain in detail, please? Thanks


Yes, there is really nothing to discusss. Just bill the time that you bill. If your time gets cut, you will soon learn who is cutting the time (the Partner or the insurance company) and you will figure out ways to describe your billing entries so you don't lost time. You might as well ask a senior attorney at your firm how they handle billing entries. I once had a MSJ for a very cheap low price retail client. I could only bill 4 hours even though it took like 8.

Also, I would not worry too much if you do not meet billables at 9 to 12 attorney firm.

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Re: Billing Hours Minimum Help

Postby Anonymous User » Sun Jun 02, 2019 4:44 pm

Op here,

Awesome thanks for the solid advice. I’ll bill what I can and how long it actually takes me and go from there. I was just worried that if my hours do get cut, what would happen? At most I’ll get a talk from partner or senior associate. They probably will tell me the same thing, you’re not on track to meeting weekly minimum, so find ways to describe your billing entities differently, so you’re not getting cut.

Also other associates will get to see my time sheets, indicating I was the only one who messed up, if I don’t meet the minimums because the sheet is sent out every month, including the weekly minimums of everyone. I guess I’m just paranoid.

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Re: Billing Hours Minimum Help

Postby beeoBoop » Sun Jun 02, 2019 10:27 pm

Don't cut your own time let partners do that. Bill how much time you spend

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Re: Billing Hours Minimum Help

Postby Anonymous User » Mon Jun 03, 2019 1:03 am

Op here,

I won’t. Again thanks. But things that have a minimum, I’ll have to pretty much cut my time to fit the flat minimum billing rate even though it takes me about 1 hour longer. Eventually it will take me about the same time (since I’m new), so I won’t have to cut anything. Or until then, the hour I do cut, I can word differently and let partner deal with it to see if it can get billed. I was specifically told/advised to cut on matters like these though where there is a minimum in place. Again, if I can’t find an alternative to bill that hour, I’ll just have to suck it up and work on increasing efficiency to get that work done faster. But for research and etc, I won’t cut on anything, depending on client and bill my actual time like most have said.

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Re: Billing Hours Minimum Help

Postby sparty99 » Mon Jun 03, 2019 1:53 am

Anonymous User wrote:Op here,

I won’t. Again thanks. But things that have a minimum, I’ll have to pretty much cut my time to fit the flat minimum billing rate even though it takes me about 1 hour longer. Eventually it will take me about the same time (since I’m new), so I won’t have to cut anything. Or until then, the hour I do cut, I can word differently and let partner deal with it to see if it can get billed. I was specifically told/advised to cut on matters like these though where there is a minimum in place. Again, if I can’t find an alternative to bill that hour, I’ll just have to suck it up and work on increasing efficiency to get that work done faster. But for research and etc, I won’t cut on anything, depending on client and bill my actual time like most have said.


Okay, no one really cares about your billing minimums. But if the client requires 2.0 hours to prepare answers to written discovery and you actually did 3.4 hours, then you bill as follows: you bill .3 to Review and analyze the complaint to prepare Defendant's answers to Plaintiff's first set of interrogatories, you bill another .3 to review and analyze Plaintiffs ROGS to prepare Defendant's responses, then another .3 to review and analyze Plaintiff's request for documents, then you bill 2.0 to prepare responses to written discovery. Then you bill .3 to review and supplement answers to first set of written discovery or you say that you researched a Federal Rule 30.0 to prepare discovery responses which is a .2. You do stuff like that to skate around the stupid insurance company rules.



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