Is billing a waste of your time?

Recently I was discussing with a lawyer the impact of itemised billing from the lawyer and client perspectives.

Someone in the law firm compiles the draft bill. They review it. They delete items. They change words. Why? Because they don’t want the client to read them. Some clients are known to reject bills because they contain words and phrases describing activities they are not prepared to pay for.

Once suitably edited bills are reviewed by more senior lawyers prior to being sent to the client for payment.

Consider how much time and effort is spent entering the narratives initially and then how much time is spent editing and re-editing.

Then look at it from the client’s position. They receive the bill and scrutinise it. Some will consider and seek justification for every phrase on it. Then where they feel appropriate, they will contact the law firm and engage senior staff to try to reduce the bill.

Is this really a good way for both parties to conduct business? Consider the amount of time spent; time for both sides which could have been invested in more productive and beneficial activities.

How much more effective to work to fixed prices? No more scrutinising entry by entry?

A win for both sides?