WSJ Law blog reports that according to a study by Stanford Law School, more than 50% of lawyers surveyed reported padding their bills. This may include charging for unnecessary work or recording more time than was actually devoted to a task.
But isn’t this true in any business that bills for time? Maybe the bigger issue is whether a lawyer charges an appropriate amount for the work he or she has performed for a client (somewhat independent of the amount of time spent.) Doesn’t the free market take care of this problem?
For years, there has been talk of value billing in the legal industry. This would remove the over-billing issue from table. Personally, I think everyone would be a lot happier if most legal services were performed on a flat fee basis (with benchmarks for adding fees when matters get more complicated than expected.) But we are part of a conservative profession that doesn’t like change. So maybe in another decade or so, it will catch on.