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Time To Do Away With Time Costs

Time To Do Away With Time Costs

Time To Do Away With Time Costs 费用不该以时间计算

I have never rendered a time cost bill in my entire life. I worked on the basis of fixed fees with a defined scope of work, and I have never seen a client ask to switch to time-cost billing. Even though time cost billing is still a prevalent practice in the legal industry, none of my peers seriously defend it, and we have to acknowledge the problems that it creates for everyone involved.

The customer
  1. You have no idea how much you’re going to spend in the end until you get your bill. This makes planning and budgeting for legal costs difficult, especially if you run a business with a recurring need for legal services.
  2. Some law firms offer to reduce your costs by getting junior lawyers or non-lawyers to do part of the work. But you have no way of verifying who actually did the work, even if they presented their timesheets to you.
  3. Do you choose someone who has a higher billing rate who might be able to get the job done faster, or a younger lawyer with a lower rate who hopefully will produce a smaller bill at the end? (But what does this have to do with the quality of service you receive?)

The firm
  1. Customers will bargain with you and ask for discounts after you present the bill. You come under constant financial pressure even though you thought you gave the customer advance notice of your rates.
  2. If you and the customer can’t reach a consensus on the appropriate amount to pay, you have to apply for taxation. You have to spend more resources to get what is owed to you, and even then there’s no guarantee that you’ll get everything you want.
  3. Everyone has a slightly different idea of what a reasonable rate is. Even if you inform the customer of your hourly rate beforehand, you still can be accused of over-charging. Unless you are the sort who thinks any publicity is good publicity, your reputation will take a hit.

The associate
  1. You are only as good as the hours which you can record as billable hours. Anything else which is not billable might be considered wasted, depending on how your firm weighs other activities such as business development.
  2. To add insult to injury, you have to spend time recording the time you spent which is even less billable time spent. Granted, this activity can be alleviated by practice management software, but you rather spend time on more productive pursuits.
  3. You feel pressured on both sides – the firm which has an interest in maximising profits, and the client who has an interest in a lower bill or financial certainty.

Time cost billing should go the way of the dinosaur, given how it has no relation to the value which law firms create for customers. Is our value the time we spend with or for customers?

Some people take the view that only what can be measured can be valued, but if you have an instinctive or reflexive dislike for financial uncertainty, then deep down you already know that time cost billing is not for you. Lawyers need to take a hard look at ourselves and ask if time cost billing serves everyone’s interests.

Sick of being billed by the hour for your business needs? Have a quick chat via email (boongan@lawfirm.com.sg) or LinkedIn to see how we can provide a solution at a fixed cost.

我一向来以固定费用,固定工作范围提供法律服务。虽然许多律师还是以时间作为费用计算的根据,但少数的律师会公开地提倡这种计算方式。况且,我还未从当事人收到类似的要求。以时间计算费用,其实给各方造成种种问题。

当事人方面
  1. 时间不断地流逝,法律费用可能成为一个无底洞。即使你要未雨绸缪,也不可能以一个流水账作为根据。
  2. 时间不断地流逝,法律费用可能成为一个无底洞。即使你要未雨绸缪,也不可能以一个流水账作为根据。
  3. 时间不断地流逝,法律费用可能成为一个无底洞。即使你要未雨绸缪,也不可能以一个流水账作为根据。

律师事务所方面
  1. 即使当初澄清费率,当事人收到单张后,有可能企图降低费用而讨价还价。
  2. 如果双方再总额方面无法达成协议,律师必须向法庭申请费用审核,就必须承担费用被降低的风险。
  3. 各方对“合理的费率”不一致,对服务不满的当事人有时会职责律师事务所出天价,这可能会损伤律师事务所的名誉。

律师方面
  1. 特别是年轻律师,必须维持时间记录,但不是100%的工作时间能转为费用。
  2. 维持记录而花的时间,不但不能转为费用,也属于低效率的工作项目。当然,律师能利用各种软件减少花在类似行政工作的时间,但毕竟律师注重的是有效地利用工作时间
  3. 作为年轻的律师,通常被律师事务所和当事人的相反利益夹在中间

最重要的是,律师对当事人的价值不一定与花费的时间有直接关系。如果当事人要求的是程序或结果方面的效率,他会注重律师所花的时间吗?。

 

重视财政规划的当事人自然要避免以时间计算法律费用。律师本身也必须检讨自己的商业构架,才能与当事人达成共识。

如果您要求固定的法律费用,不如通过电邮 (boongan@lawfirm.com.sg) 或 LinkedIn 要求咨询。

Need Help With A Legal Dispute? 需要关于解决纠纷的法律咨询?

If you have any questions relating to business dispute prevention or how to settle a business dispute in Singapore, feel free to email or drop me a LinkedIn message. I will do my best to respond within 24 hours.

Or leave a message here (your personal particulars will not be shared with third parties without your permission).

若有关于商业纠纷防范、和解方案的疑问,可通过电邮或LinkedIn联系。我会尽量在24小时之内回复。

您也可以通过以下表格留言。我们不会在得到您的许可之前把个人资料传达给第三方。

Need Help With A Legal Dispute? 需要关于解决纠纷的法律咨询?