Divorce Lawyer Billing 101 – Lesson 1: The Billable Hour and the Business of Law

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You probably know that your lawyer bills you for time spent on the file. This is known as “the billable hour.” It’s part of law firm culture.

Most firms require lawyers to meet revenue targets each year concerning the number of hours billed to clients to keep their job. Yes, your lawyer wants to help you but they can’t do that if they are unemployed. They even likely want to help you as cheaply as possible and still do a great job for you. However, you need to understand that law is also a business and that you pay for the hours of a lawyer’s time that your file consumes.

Your path to lower legal fees is to minimize the billable hour time that your file consumes.Most firms bill in minimum increments of six minutes (a tenth of an hour). What does this mean for you? It’s why you get charged six minutes for that 60 second phone call with your lawyer.

At the end of this series of posts, we are hoping to educate our readers to understand:

(1) That efficient communication between client and lawyer results in less billable hours and therefore lower bills;

(2) What efficient communication between client and lawyer looks like as opposed to dysfunctional communication which actually increases legal fees;

(3) How clients can be active participants in their own file in a way that is actually helpful and reduces legal fees;

(4) How the level of conflict between parties (or even between lawyers) directly influences legal fees;

(5) How clients going rogue or disregarding advice can increase legal fees; and

(6) How self-represented litigants influence legal fees.For each of these topics, the billable hour will rear its head so keep this concept at the top of your mind when reading posts in this series.