Time sheets – the bane of lawyers everywhere – you can’t live with them and you can’t live without them.
The endless debate continues as to whether in this era of AFA’s, fixed fees and the like, lawyers and law firm managers continue to debate the question of whether we still need to be bound to the ball and chain of time sheets. The answer is a resounding “Yes!”
There are numerous reasons: First, in any fee application in which a court approves fee awards, courts require detailed and contemporaneous time sheets.
Second, The Model Code of Professional Responsibility does not explicitly recite AFA’s as a permissible method by which to charge a fee. The hourly rate remains the Model Code’s gold standard.
Next, some courts have actually held that fixed fees are unethical and unenforceable and the only method to recover on a quantum meruit basis is through time based billing.
With project management becoming such a key fixture in the profession, contemporaneous recording of time is key to the success of project managers.
And recording time spent on all firm-related matters is key to management; assuring that time-keepers are on task and then, at year end, assessments of the contributions made by all members of the law firm can only be objectively made by having a full and complete record of every lawyer’s contribution at every level.
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