"We tell clients the truth, we speak plain English and we are here for you."
Some of the things you should know about Lawyers, but were afraid to ask:
Minimum Billing Unit - Everyone knows lawyers charge by the hour. However, as important as the hourly rate is, so is the minimum amount of time charged. We charge a minimum of 5 minutes (we also do not charge for messages, or busy signals, etc.). Some lawyers charge a minimum of 12 minutes for each call. We’ve settled on the six minute minimum, because we really couldn’t make it any lower and still keep our sanity.
Double Billing – Occasionally a lawyer will go to Court on three cases in the same day and charge all three for the total amount of time at Court. Example: Lawyer X spends 3 hours in Court on 3 separate cases. Lawyer X then charges each of the three clients 3 hours of Court time, or 9 hours total, when he only spent 3. Each client should have been billed 1 hour each, not 3.
Case Files – It is basic ethics that the file belongs to the client, not the lawyer. Anytime you want to see your file, you can. If you have any questions about the bill or the amount of time spent, ask to check it yourself.
Ask to see your Time Slips - All lawyers keep “Time Slips”; sometimes electronically and sometimes on paper. From the Time Slips the bill is generated. The Time Slip should give the amount of time spent, and the hours. For example: research, 2:00pm to 4:00 pm, on 04/22/10. If the exact time is not given, you should ask to see the lawyer’s daily timesheet, which is a list of all the time slips for that particular day.
The Hourly Rate – How some lawyers arrives at an hourly rate is not a great secret. All lawyers charge by the hour, directly or indirectly. If you call around – assuming they will tell you – you will find a wide difference in rates. One would assume that because a lawyer only has time to sell, that the hourly rate is scientifically arrived at by calculating the overhead, profit, etc. Not always true. This is how it sometimes happens: Lawyer “A” who has been in practice for 10 years is waiting at court for his case. He is talking to Lawyer “B” who has been in practice for 8 years - Lawyer “A” asks: “How much do you charge per hour?”; Lawyer “B” says: “$210 per hour.”; Lawyer “A” thinks to himself “I’m more experienced than him and I only charge $200 per hour? I’m going to up to $220 per hour”. Be sure you understand and are comfortable with your lawyer's rates. It's your money.