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April 08, 2005

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» Billing Ethics from jurabilis - juristisches Weblog aus Berlin
Dear Mr. Schaeffer: This is a question about billable hours. Recently, I switched law firms. At the old firm, we billed in 6-minute increments, meaning that if I worked for 8 minutes on a case, I was supposed to round up to 12 minutes. Since each 6-m [Read More]

Comments

Noel Weichbrodt

Evan, I must disagree with your advice. Specifically, you wantonly ignore the great pre-Socratics in your suggestion. Don't be ashamed, this is a common failing of most great books programs. But if our young interlocutor would begin their education with Heraclites and Parmenides the like, they would have run into Zeno. I started ahead of them, and helpfully am already there. From Zeno, you would realize that the repeated application of the stated billing algorithm (itself an Arabic word, which a great books education would also not let you know) leads to the rate of their billable hours' increases asymptotically approaching infinity. At that point, either our young interlocutor would become the modern Pascal, a lawyer cum mathematician, or would retire young. Either way, bourgeoisie questions of ethics would be beyond their concern, as the Machiavellian lawyer would surely posit.

Keepin’ it real, ‘cause that’s only how it ever is (or isn’t, if you are Bishop Berkley),
Noel

Evan

Noel: Henceforth, all requests for advice relating to the ancient philosophers shall be referred to you.

Yeoman

You'll note, however, that none of these great lights practiced law, suggesting that ethics in the law is situational, rather than absolute.

Indeed, a lawyer might well profit more from reading Clausewitz than that Aristotle. The Greek philosophers sought absolute truths. The Prussian militarists, our true model in the law, know that in their profession, the absolute truth is dictated by the ABA Model Code of Ethics and the Firm Billing Committee, and that "I was only following orders" suffices for an adquate excuse for anything.

Cynically yours,

Yeoman

Mark

"I can work for half the day and read weblogs for half the day and still bill as many hours as I was billing at the old firm. Do you think this practice is ethical?"

No, fool, it's not ethical. If you pay for 15 minutes of someone's time, would you be happy with getting 7 minutes worth of work?

Amazing how educated people -- with a law degree and the Bar exam under their belt -- can be so clueless in regard to moral matters.

Evan

Mark: It's also amazing how educated people--that's you--can be so clueless as to think that any old asinine thing they read on a weblog might be . . . well, never mind. Thanks for reading!

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