Boo To Billable Hours

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The billable hour dominates the legal profession, but is eating away at its soul. It chills the attorney-client relationship. It penalizes efficient lawyers, while rewarding plodding ones. It leads to arbitrary, irrational, and suspect results, in which time is distorted and sometimes invented. It disconnects the amount that is charged from the value delivered. And it fails to produce what it promises, transparency. Its effects are all the worse in law-firm pyramids that impose excessive billing requirements. This straight-talking book critically dissects the practice of billing by the hour in the practice of law, examining how time is actually recorded in a variety of contexts that raise ethical as well as practical concerns. It also tracks the history of the billable hour, showing how we got to where we are today. The book is not all about criticism, however. It also advocates alternatives that shift the focus away from time expended and onto value delivered.

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