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Killing the Roach: The Incredibly Illogical, Fundamentally Odious Billable Hour

Apr 13, 2009, 20:03 (3 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Andy Updegrove)

"After you agree to work together, you meekly ask how much it will cost. The answer is, "Oh, well, that's hard to say. It depends on so many things..." Although she gives you a ballpark estimate, that's all it is. She goes on to say that she will bill you monthly, with the amount invoiced based on the new time she has spent on your case. Oh -- and the retainer to begin work will be $1,000, thank you very much.

"Welcome to the improbable and seemingly impregnable world of the lawyers' billable hour -- perhaps the only pervasive, virtually undisputed commercial standard in existence that puts almost all of the risk on the buyer, and where the cost of the commoditized product goes up, not down, year after year.

"How did such an illogical and unequal standard become so well established, and how does it survive? Good questions. The first one is easy. But there's really no good answer for the second one at all, although I invite you to consider the following."

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