The Billable Hour

Most business attorney Tulsa law firms that help businesses bill by the hour. I have worked at law firms that bill by the hour. I have numerous colleagues who work at firms that bill by the hour. There are a few common denominators. I want to share a few of those here. Keep in mind I am not attempting to defame any of these firms for doing what they do. If you are in litigation, really the best and fairest way to treat a client is to bill by the hour. Despite what some may tell you, almost nobody can predict when a case will settle, what a judge will do, and, most importantly, what a jury will do. This means you have to set up a rate where the client pays for your time. Some business attorney Tulsa firms will charge flat rates, but this is rare and I have found that the rates are usually extraordinarily high.

There are a few common denominators among business attorney Tulsa firms that bill by the hour. I have worked at several of them. Some of the firms were big. Others were small. Here are the commonalities I observed.

The first common denominator is associated with billable hour requirements. There are generally two types of attorneys at these firms: associates and partners. Usually, business attorney Tulsa associates are the ones who do the bulk of the work. They are usually lawyers with 5 years or less experience and they do all the grunt work. The partners are usually involved with the bigger stuff: important motion hearings, trials, important client meetings, etc. The associates are usually bill at a lower billing rate than their partner counterparts. Partners sometimes have billable hour requirements. Sometimes, they do not. Whether or not the partners have billing hour requirements, the business attorney Tulsa associates almost always do. Usually, the requirements are steep, and often require often regular weekend work. Keep in mind, this is an environment that places the bill on you.

The second common denominator is having legal assistants who bill for their time. The unfortunate problem for legal assistants is there are no requirements to become a legal assistant for most law firms. Some of the more sophisticated firms require a paralegal certification. Most do not. This means that the quality of legal assistants varies considerably due to a lack of requirements for serving in the position. Regardless of the quality, most firms do not have any variation in the rates for legal assistants. This means whether the business attorney Tulsa legal assistant is good, or not so good, they usually bill by the hour and also have a billable hour requirement.

The third, and admittedly less-common denominator, is secretaries charging for their time. There are no specific requirements of which I am aware for being a business attorney Tulsa legal secretary. They usually have to know how to type. Like with legal assistants, due to a lack of requirements to serve in the position, the quality of legal secretaries varies considerably. Regardless of the quality, firms usually charge a standard rate for transcription.

Based on the above, imagine this scenario that occurs almost daily at most of these firms. The partner opens the mail to find a set of documents sent by another attorney in the case. The partner gives the documents to the associate assigned to the file for review. The partner bills for this under file management as partners are allowed to do this. The associate then bills for review of the documents and usually 10 pages of review constitutes a 0.1. The associate then prepares a summary (and may edit it) usually via dictation and bills for that. The legal secretary assigned to the associate then types the dictation and bills for his/her time in doing so. The associate then hands the summary to the partner along with an oral summary of the documents. The partner then prepares a letter to the client summarizing the summary. The partner bills for the letter at a higher rate. Then, the legal secretary assigned to the partner types a letter and bills for that.

One of my favorite shows growing up was Saved By The Bell. There is one episode where Zack and his pals have to prepare a dish for their home economics course. The dish they prepared was a Pop-Tart. One was supposed to take the package out of the box, the next remove the wrapper, the next put it into the toaster, the next activate the toaster, and the last take the cooked dish out of the toaster. The teacher was surprised whenever the dish came out with the wrapper still on it. The gang confessed that somebody forgot to take off the wrapper.

The reason I bring up this analogy is because one person could have easily prepared the Pop-Tart. Teenagers do it everyday. The same is true for my example above. One person could have easily received the documents, summarized them, prepared a letter, and sent it. But most firms are not like that. They are set up on such an inefficient platform that they instead use the method described above.

The RC Law Group is different. It’s just me as the business attorney Tulsa. This means if you send me documents, I am reviewing them, summarizing them, and reporting back to you. If you call, you get me. If you e-mail someone, you are e-mailing me. And this is all occurring without me billing you anything other than a flat, monthly fee.

I wanted to design a business attorney Tulsa law firm that was different because I was frustrated by the inefficient models of most firms. That may have been the way law used to be practiced, but it is not anymore. So if you want a lawyer who is different, one who gives you direct access to him, one who does not have an army of staff to justify, and one who genuinely cares about your business, consider the RC Law Group. I am not going to perform any action unless I genuinely believe it is in your best interests. Don’t believe me? Give me a call and let me see if I can persuade you that it is true. Remember, the initial business attorney Tulsa consultation is free.