Time entries that waste time

Who writes this time entry on a legal bill and expects it to be paid?

Research. 4.1 hrs.

Well, someone does. In fact, this time entry was on a whole page of similar ones like “Read letter. 0.3.” and “Answer email. 0.2”.

It’s remarkable that lawyers who don’t hesitate to labor over their briefs to capture every second of the reader’s attention fail to spend a fraction of that time composing what needs to be their most persuasive monthly work: the fee statement. Neither I (nor the business center manager whose budget is carrying this cost) should ever have to wonder what we received for the time billed.

A well-written legal bill should fully describe the work performed, with a view toward the relevance of the task to the engagement. Doesn’t “research applicability of 3-year statute of limitations to plaintiff’s recent claim for repetitive stress injury and summarize findings in short memorandum. 4.1 hrs.” sound like real work was done, instead of “Research. 4.1 hrs.”?

Each time entry should be self-justifying, and should never prompt an inquiry. In other words, a well-written legal bill is so clear and so transparent as to compel its recipient to pay it without question; its value is immediately apparent.


1 thought on “Time entries that waste time

  1. Mitch Matorin

    It would seem obvious, wouldn’t it? And yet… I’ve enjoyed reading this blog and would love to see more. The more insight into how I can best serve clients, the better.

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