Lying to Clients & Why Being Inefficient Has Rewards

In my last post, I posed the question does “deception in legal billing invariably lead to deception in other areas?”

The answer to that question may be “yes” according to Prof. Lisa Lehman. In her law review article, Lying to Clients, 138 U. Pa. L. Rev. 659, she writes how easy it can be for one deception to lead to others. If an attorney “accepts the use of small deceptions in one setting, it becomes easier to use deception to solve problems in other settings. . . . Deception allows greater control of the use of time, and sometimes major savings in time.”

Even more troubling from a client trust standpoint is commentator Alan Altman’s view that if an attorney “becomes even slightly comfortable with charging the client for superfluous time, a question is begged: why strain in the service of the client . . . when inefficiency has its own rewards?” To Bill or not to Bill? Lawyers Who Wear Wrist Watches Almost Always Do, Although Ethical Lawyers Actually Think About It First, 11 Geo. J. Legal Ethics 203 at p. 211.

Under this view, there is no incentive for an attorney to really strain to try to get hold of an opposing counsel to press settlement negotiations to end the case and curtail further work on the case. After all, inefficiency has its own rewards. Continue reading