Year End Legal Bills Should be Even More Closely Scrutinized as Lawyers & Paralegals Scramble to Meet Yearly Billing Targets

[The following is an update of a piece I wrote three years ago. Because of its importance  at this time of year I think the message bears repeating.]

It’s been said with good justification that “a lawyer’s pen gets heavier during the fourth quarter.”

Invariably, as the year nears an end, lawyers (and paralegals) scramble to find things to do in their files in order to make their firm’s hourly billing “targets” (i.e., goals) for the year. This invariably results in task padding as well as time padding.

Invariably I see more “drop-in” or “transient” billers show up in files during the last two months of the year than at any other time in the year. This is often caused by lawyers and paralegals begging their colleagues for work to do in order to reach their yearly billing targets.

You see a lot depends upon meeting law firm billing targets including firm bonuses and partners’ shares of the profits.  It sometimes may also mean whether or not you will have a job for the next year.   This was the situation apparently facing a Denver attorney that I recently blogged about. Afraid that she would  not make her yearly billing targets, she inflated some of her year end time sheets and lied about it when caught. The result was a 9 month suspension for the lawyer.

The pressures to make bonus or even keep your job are real. Thus, it is no wonder that more make-work projects and task padding occurs during the final two months of a year that at any other time in the year.

But apart from concerns about the make-work projects and even making up tasks that invariably go on in the fourth quarter, there is something else that goes on in the fourth quarter: . . .

[A complete copy of this blog post is available to clients of LegalBillAudit.com. To obtain a copy, contact clientservices@legalbillaudit.com.]

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