Byte of Prevention Blog

5 Ways to Beat “The Lawyer Clock”

Lawyers Insurance North CarolinaTime is money.

The phrase is attributed to Benjamin Franklin. But it’s a safe bet Old Ben never imagined his aphorism would spring to cyber-life by way of The Lawyer Clock.

If you’ve never seen The Lawyer Clock – which shows how legal fees add up like clockwork in client conferences and phone calls – take a look.

The Lawyer Clock, according to Forbes, is “the only way to visualize and truly feel the stabbing pain of lawyer meetings.”

And it’s the client who is the one feeling the pain.

The Lawyer Clock was apparently created by one Jared Stenquist, who coded it during “painfully long and expensive corporate lawyer meetings.” Its intent: to graphically illustrate the real-time cost of attorney-client encounters.

Here’s how it works:

  • Enter your average hourly billing rate (form $0 to $1,000);
  • Enter the number of lawyers participating in the meeting, phone call or Skype session (from 1 to 10);
  • Enter the percentage of time spent on topic (from 0 to 100 percent);
  • Start the clock and watch the fees accumulate.

Whoever Jared Stenquist is, one thing’s for sure. He’s not looking to spread the pain. He offers The Lawyer Clock free for public use and enjoyment, and he claims “no rights reserved.”

My guess is he’s not a lawyer.

Although every attorney I shared The Lawyer Clock with found it clever, funny and at least as diverting as Duck Dynasty.

Here are 5 ways to avoid having your clients watching The Lawyer Clock at your expense:

  • Stop charging purely by the hour. Switch to flat fees, value-based billing, or some other arrangement that lets clients know exactly what they will wind up paying.
  • Don’t bring the whole gang to the party. Clients don’t like the idea of paying multiple people at once – especially if they think one person could do the job.
  • Communicate. Sometimes there are good reasons to have more than one person attend a meeting or participate in a conference call. If so, explain this to the client in advance – preferably at the start of your engagement.
  • Stick to business. If you stray off topic significantly – with lengthy digressions on ACC basketball or the Academy Awards, for instance – make sure it is off the clock. Clients should not be billed for chitchat.
  • Give some of your time away free. Even if you charge by the hour, there is no rule that says you have to charge for every single minute. Everybody loves getting something for free. If you do discount a bill or write off certain charges, make sure the client knows about it.

And remember: “A man who never graduated from school might steal from a freight car. But a man who attends college and graduates as a lawyer might steal the whole railroad.” Theodore Roosevelt (by way of The Lawyer Clock).

Jay Reeves a/k/a The Risk Man is an attorney licensed in North Carolina and South Carolina. Formerly he was Legal Editor at Lawyers Weekly and Risk Manager at Lawyers Mutual. He wears a Timex. Contact jay.reeves@ymail.com, phone 919-619-2441.

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