Is the way all attorney's bill their clients? - Posted by Mike

Posted by Ben on December 07, 1999 at 06:11:53:

We have a long time family relationship with a big firm.Many times I call my lawyers months after they have drafted some document or given me lengthy advice on something and say “I never got a bill for that”, they just say “don’t worry about it”, “next time”. The smart lawyer will not squeeze his client for every penny because referrals are the bread and butter of the legal world. I told them “you guys are ruining the image of lawyers, your supposed to be greedy and rapacious!”.

Is the way all attorney’s bill their clients? - Posted by Mike

Posted by Mike on December 06, 1999 at 14:08:42:

The other day I received a bill in the mail for $50 from an attorney that represented me at a few closings. In my opinion, this bill is completely ridiculous, but maybe I think that way because I haven’t dealt with enough attorneys yet

Anyhow, this attorney represented me at a closing back in April '99. I was the seller of the property, paid his normal fee and went about my business. A few months later something came up on the title report that the buyer discovered when he tried to refinance the property. I called up this attorney to ask a couple of questions about it and asked him if he could fax a copy of the closing statement and old title commitment to the buyer’s title company. He obliged and I hadn’t spoken with him since. Now I get a $42 bill in the mail for services which included 15 minutes of phone consultation and $8 for faxes. Now, I’m not one to dispute debts when I legitimately owe them, but $8 for probably no more than four pieces of paper that he faxed is a little excessive. And, we certainly spent no more on 5 minutes on the phone when I talked to him.

Anyhow, I guess I’d just like to know if this is standard attorney billing practice or is this guy just trying to squeeze every dime he can out of me. Thanks for listening to my venting. I realize that everyone’s got to make a living out there, but I think there are certain things that professionals can do “out of the goodness of their heart” especially after I have already paid him for representing me on this deal.

Re: Is the way all attorney’s bill their clients? - Posted by JHyre in Ohio

Posted by JHyre in Ohio on December 07, 1999 at 06:41:34:

$40 for 15 minutes equates to $160 hour- not a bad rate if the attorney is any good, an outstanding rate if he’s first class. You don’t work for free, why should he?

I DO hate garbage charges- $2 faxes and $.50 copies. Some law firms make millions off of those charges because corporate clients will pay them. I generally won’t pay for those things (in my individual capacity, anyway), but if the hourly fee structure is good, I will pay the garbage fees- as long as the total price paid is reasonable. My decision to contest a bill usually turns on the overall relationship- quality of work, “freebies & favors”, etc. Only you can determine whether the relationship with this particular attorney justifies the costs involved.

John Hyre

I have a great attorney… - Posted by Glenn-PA

Posted by Glenn-PA on December 06, 1999 at 21:39:37:

He is available to me for phone consultation during normal business hours FOR FREE. He always returns my calls THE SAME BUSINESS DAY. I do not waste his time. I follow his advice ALWAYS. I’m fiercely loyal and do all my personal and real estate matters thru his office - I also refer him to others as he does not advertise. He is expensive however, I never get a bill with junk charges. This attorney has been the single best business asset I have acquired. He allows me to move forward knowing that my position will be as protected as possible. All this and I’m a small fry, part time, rehab investor. I have grown to enjoy paying his fee because it means I’ve found another deal!

Sorry, Mike - Posted by Troy M

Posted by Troy M on December 06, 1999 at 18:33:35:

…there is no goodness in an attorney’s heart. (LOL) Just kidding. I can’t speak for all, but my attorney charges about the same, $40 bucks for a consultation on the phone. If you like the attorney, pay it and don’t sweat it, if not, find another. But, I wouldn’t expect any “freebies”. But, hey, it beats the alternative (foregoing legal advice may be just a bit more than $40 bucks).

Good luck,

Troy M