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I’m new to the world of billable hours. I like to keep organized, so I do spend a small bit of time making/updating case lists and contact sheets to make sure I have record of last contact with client/OC, where I am in suit, relevant deadlines, etc. Do you bill for this kind of work?

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Bill it. “Analyze case status to determine next steps re X.”

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a1 just saw your other comment, so disregard me here lol

funny

This will depend on the partner responsible for the file.

I get where AA1 is coming from. Some firms expect you to bill every moment you can.

Clients, however, expect to pay for legal services but don’t expect to pay for administrative acts.

Many firms and partners would view your organizational activities as purely administrative. While reasonable people can make arguments to the contrary, I see it that way too.

As a practical matter, I’m even if my firm viewed this as something other than purely an administrative task, I’d never bill for this separately, but rather would roll it into another time entry. Rather than bill .3 for email exchanges with OC and .1 for your administrative task, I’d bill .4 to “exchanging email correspondence regarding x and attending to related matters.”

But I wouldn’t bill for merely staying organized.

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A1, this is perfect; thank you. I struggled with it because I felt the admin tasks are important to properly handling my clients’ cases as I’m tracking deadlines, last contact made with client & OC, and my next steps, so there is a little bit of strategizing. I will mention I’m primarily doing insurance defense right now, so definitely prone to my clients cutting down billing.

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Bill everything, let the partner deal with cutting time.

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I’d say no. This is for your organization and I’d consider it clerical. I delegate it. I know many attorneys are not comfortable delegating these tasks though. If you’re analyzing case strategy while figuring out a schedule of priority that could be billable.

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Part of it is updating contact lists which I would not consider billable, but a lot of is updating deadlines and strategizing my next steps.

I’m in a practice that bills on a ton of small matters a day (15-30 matters daily, lots of .2 and .3). If I didn’t capture some of the time spent staying organized it would be nearly impossible to make my hours. One thing I’ve adopted is to try to update my tracker(s) as I do some other substantive task for that project so that it stays up to date more consistently and I feel like I can more fairly capture the time as billable. So if I sent a draft to opposing counsel, I’d update my tracker to reflect when it was sent, schedule a follow-up-if-no-response reminder, file any relevant emails to our doc management system, and capture all of that time within the “Finalize X and send to opposing counsel” time entry. This adds at most a .1 or .2 to your substantive entry, and if you do this consistently you will spend less admin time trying to track down the status of things days, weeks, or months later.

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Thanks! That’s pretty much exactly what I do in terms of the tasks and I just wanted to make sure that when I’m doing stuff like that/planning for next steps that I’m not shorting my billables because it does add up for every matter over a day’s work and it’s not something that could really be delegated to an assistant (it’s for my sanity and so I know exactly where each matter stands).

Bill the time you spend on moving the ball forward, but as others have indicated the real art is crafting narratives that don’t make it seem like you’re billing a few hundred bucks an hour to move papers around on your desk.

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My narratives feel so repetitive and crafting those damn things is the bane of my existence. I’d rather respond to discovery than do that lol

Bill everything and let the partner cut your time! Though, I realize that may be dependent on if your billing requirement is for time billed or what was actually billed to the client.

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IMO some billing advice on fishbowl is “over billing” but of course that’s going to happen when associates are pressured to bill 2200+ a year. I’ve seen some hilarious ones like “when you’re thinking about an issue while on the toilet, bill for it.” No, you don’t get to bill for pooping lmao.

Look at your retainer agreements and/or billing guidelines for each client. For most of mine, we can’t bill for getting ourselves organized. Keep in mind that your realization rate will likely be considered for bonus eligibility. Bill the time as admin to show partners how you spent that time, but consider not billing to the client unless you can reasonably wrap some of the time into billable work product.

Something that I think is lost on much of the legal profession is the longevity of client relationships when you bill them fairly and honestly. Maybe you’ll lose .2 here and there but your clients will appreciate you and eventually just pay the bills when they get them. And most importantly, they’ll stay with you.

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This is not billable even though I’m in the school of billing everything and everything. I agree with Partner above though—there’s a good way to turn these organizational tasks into something substantive, which in turn is a win win for you and your client.

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I think if you’d said you were insurance defense in your original post, many of us would have owed out as we recognize I’ve that entire segment of our profession operates under its own unique billing regime.

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