How a 10-Minute Hearing Can Cost You $3,265.17
The average U.S attorney now charges $540 per hour (Thomson Reuters: “Rich Lawyers are Getting Richer Faster”). Let’s assume you have a Case Management Conference downtown at 8:30 a.m. Your lawyer starts the clock at about 7:30 for “Travel to CMC – 1.0,” safeguarding against any traffic. Once he gets to court, he sits with all the other attorneys waiting for their matters to be heard. It is commonplace to wait for a couple hours or more before your matter is called. So the actual hearing starts at 10:50 and lasts 10 minutes and covers routine matters. You get your next time entry – “Prepare for and attend CMC – 2.5.” Now, he heads back to the office which takes 45 minutes – “Travel from CMC – 0.8.” Grand total if you are lucky – 4.3 hours at $540 per = $2,322.00 for a routine 10-minute hearing.
It could be worse. It IS lunchtime now, and your attorney has to get in his daily 9 billable hours to hit his quota. He has been working on your case after all, so on the way back to the office he stops at the local deli for a pastrami and iced tea ($25.17, with a nice tip) while reading the sports page . By the time he gets back to his desk and actually starts working on another file, it is now 1:30 p.m. 7:30 to 1:30 is 6 hours. So a little revision is in order. “Travel to CMC – 1.0”, “Prepare for CMC – 0.5”, “Attend CMC hearing – 3.5” and “Travel from CMC – 1.0” for grand total of 6 billable hours. 6.0 times $540 = $3,240 + $25.17 of costs = $3,265.17. If you don’t think this happens, I’d like to sell you a timeshare in Siberia.
Here is how I would want this hearing handled if I was cutting the check. $75 for CourtCall. Let’s say 15 minutes for the hearing to allow for a little time setting up the call – “Attend CMC via CourtCall – 0.3.” While my attorney is on hold, he can work on other cases or my case, but he is not billing me $540 an hour to listen to talk radio and/or fiddle with his iPhone while waiting for the hearing. Grand total for my attorney – 0.3 hours times $540 = $162 + $75 = $237.00. For the same 10-minute hearing. If you find an attorney who bills this fairly, I suggest giving him or her a rate increase. This is an attorney that deserves $1,000 an hour (“Can an Attorney be Worth $1,000 an Hour?”).