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Time Billing ‘The Perfect Crime’?

Must-read post on the Wall Street Journal’s Law Blog:

"William Ross, a professor at Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law in Birmingham, Ala., calls it ‘the perfect crime.’ NYU legal ethics guru Stephen Gillers says there’s a ‘general consensus’ that the practice is on the upswing. The practice? Law-firm billing fraud, and the WSJ’s Nathan Koppel takes a look [subscription req’d] at the issue through the lens of a series of incidents that allegedly took place in Holland & Knight’s Chicago office.

"After Matthew Farmer, a 42-year old junior partner with the firm, suspected that his own hours on a trial for home builder Pinnacle Corp. had been inflated by the partner in charge of billing, 62-year-old Edward Ryan, he blew the whistle on the firm."

Are paralegals also pressured like associates for billable hours

Many firms have 1800 minimums. That’s billing 7.5 hours a day,  or 35 hours a week for 12 straight months. Is that possible? How much is overtime? What about those firms that don’t approve OT? 

Do paralegals feel the need to pad time just to make the minimum?

While firms no longer call the quota "minimum" (using the word "suggested" instead), the underlying message is the minimum is the minimum just to hold your job.  With no partnership carrot dangling, how do paralegals feel about the pressure?

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