“Churn that bill, baby!” – Billable Hours Controversy

There has been a lot of controversy over the hours some law firms charge their clients. Recently, an email has surfaced in a bankruptcy fee dispute with law firm DLA Piper that made clear the firm was intentionally running up their client’s bill. One email noted that the lawyer had “random people” doing research on a bankruptcy matter “in standard ‘churn that bill, baby!’ mode.” Put another way, the lawyer had random people doing unnecessary research for the sole purpose of charging the client more money. In another email the lawyer noted “we are already $200,000 over our estimate—that’s Team DLA Piper!” Unfortunately, this isn’t uncommon in big law firms. Former Kirkland & Ellis partner Steven Harper has stated, “The billable-hours systems…serves no one…except the big law firms’ partners.”

At Sansone Howell, we generally agree with Mr. Harper. We believe in honesty and transparency when it comes to our clients. That’s why, unlike most law firms, we have our rates posted on our web site. We don’t want our client’s to have to wonder and stress about how much their bill will be nor do we want our clients surprised by the amount of the bill. For almost every situation, we will tell you up front how much representation will cost.