f/k/a archives . . . real opinions & real haiku

January 26, 2004

New Weblogger Wants Fewer Billables, Less Procrastination

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 10:39 pm

wristwatch . .

Today is the very first day for a new weblog called the [non]billable hour, which is edited by Illinois solo lawyer-mediator Matthew Homann.  Matthew’s  weblog promises “daily ideas to re-energize your law practice and make practicing law fun again.”  I’m a little confused about that “again” concept, but I hope he can pull it off.

Matthew’s very first weblog post is called I hate billing by the hour! and contains a number of New Year’s resolutions (delayed for posting ’til Jan. 26), the first of which is:

I resolve to move all of my practice away from the billable hour — no exceptions.  I do not want to keep another timesheet as long as I live.

His second posting contains a strategy to end procrastination, which I happen to believe is the finest labor-savings device ever invented, and thus a great way to reduce billables.   Be that as it may, you should check out the [non]billable hour and let Matthew know if your practice is fun again.


P.S.  This evening, Matthew posted what will apparently be the first of a series of commentaries on The problem with the billable hour.    In fact, like many brand-new webjournalists, he appears to be having a burst of productivity (what will happen when the inventory shelf is empty?), inspired by evangelical zeal for practicing client-centered lawyering — and the radical notion of actually listening to the client.  (Gaining mediator skills, I believe, makes a lawyer a better lawyer, and a better person.)

Telephone Appearances Finally Appear in NYC (Will the Savings Appear, Too?)

Filed under: pre-06-2006 — David Giacalone @ 7:58 pm

It took a while for the telephony revolution to reach the Empire State but, earlier this month, fourteen Manhattan judges began allowing lawyers to make several types of court appearances by telephone.  A NYLJ article explains that the new service is experimental, and is being administrated by the California-based company CourtCall.   (New York Lawyer, “NY Lawyers Now Can Make Appearance By Phoning Court,” by Daniel Wise, Jan. 26, 2004).


At its website, CourtCall declares that “Lawyers can stop spending their time and their clients’ money traveling to court by making a CourtCall Appearance.”  It lists, along with the NYC Supreme Court, sixteen other states where one or more court is currently using CourtCall’s proprietary system (California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Texas, Utah, West Virginia).  


phone ringing  Appearing by telephone (as opposed to “just phoning in” an appearance) can clearly be an important tool for reducing attorney billables and clients’ overall litigation costs, while also helping courts to operate more efficiently and smoothly.  Given the well-entrenched practice in parts of New York State of billing clients a flat fee for each “court appearance” — usually amounting to two or three billable hours at the attorney’s normal rate — and charging multiple clients for the same time in court, it will be interesting to see whether and how these savings will be passed on to clients.  I hope someone is monitoring this situation.



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