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Billing philosophy

ATTORNEYS AND COUNSELORS AT LAW
657 Exton Commons
Exton, Pennsylvania, 19341
Office (610) 280.7078 E-Fax (866) 802.7629
A true measure of your worth includes all the benefits others have gained from your success. Seldom is there a case—even when the outlook is terribly bleak—that cannot benefit significantly from hard, but focused investigation, research, and discovery. Experience has taught us that clients generally seek more than just legal services—after all, good lawyers are many and are fungible. Clients often express the fact that they want to work with someone whose word they can trust, someone with whom they can communicate effectively, and someone who will not over-bill for the services rendered and results obtained. Many attorney-client relationships break down because of billing issues—too much charged for too little results. We consequently developed and follow our own billing guidelines that were adapted from years of experience. We do not expect to retire on any single case; we focus on providing excellent services and results for the fees charged so that we can get the next case, and more after that, to be prosperous into the future. We strive to communicate effectively with clients, not only so that clients need never wonder about the progress being made in their cases, but also so that we can benefit from our clients' insights, abilities, and guidance. Our billing and professional practices provide our clients with no surprises—an informed client generally is both a happy client and an effective ally. The focus of our work is always results-oriented. In contrast to a philosophy so often prevalent in the legal profession, where a large amount of hours billed is the ultimate goal, we at Barbieri and Associates (B&A) are aware that our client has finite financial resources that must be used wisely. Our first task when beginning work for a client is to analyze what resources are best devoted to the case. We do not blindly perform discovery or “storm the beaches” with an inappropriate use of staff and attorney time. Our firm charges for the time that our lawyers work on the case and not for time they don’t. While not always the case, we are cognizant of the fact that our clients’ resources are sometimes better spent by settling a case rather than by paying legal fees for continued litigation. We do not believe that winning a case while bankrupting a client in the interim benefits either party. If a client is freed from the worry about whether our billing practices are fair and honest, that client is better able to work together with us to maximize our opportunity for a successful result with the case. The results we achieve for our clients matter most to us. Because of this, we provide excellent value for the fees we charge. Like so many other successful businesses, we hope to obtain future business from our satisfied clients (as well as their recommendation to other potential clients) in order to thrive well into this century. Billing Rate
In this case our rate will be billed at TBD per hour for the services of Peter A. Barbieri and associates at the rate of TBD per hour. OR CONTINGENT FEE Billing Cycle
Our firm bills on a 30-day cycle and expects payments as soon as practicable thereafter, but no later than 10 days after presentation of the bill to the client. Maintaining a short billing cycle is critical in order for our firm to offer reasonable service fees. Billing Descriptions
Our firm’s attorneys and staff provide descriptive entries on our bill to the client. This enables a reviewer to determine whether the service provided represents a good value when compared to the fee we charge. Time Increments
Our firm charges for the time spent working on a case in increments of 1/10 of one hour. Block Billing
The firm’s attorneys and staff bill each service performed separately; we do not block bill. Minimum Billing
The firm does not establish minimum charges for tasks performed. We make every effort to travel in a way least expensive, most efficient, and most productive to our client. We customarily take work with us for plane or train trips and work, to the extent possible, en route to the destination. If the attorney works on another matter or if the trip is divided between more than one client or case, time that is billed to the respective clients or cases will be apportioned accordingly. We make every effort to obtain lodging at reasonable rates and to obtain receipts for all expenses when a case necessitates travel away from the Philadelphia metropolitan area. We charge for a meal only if we are traveling or if we believe it to be important to the advancement of our client’s case. For example, client or expert meetings sometimes are conducted most efficiently during lunch, in which event the meal would be billed to the client. Disbursements and Costs
Firm costs are not intended to be profit-centers; the firm nonetheless expects to recoup firm resources expended on behalf of clients. Some of the most common disbursements and costs are as follows: Overnight Mail
Our firm makes every effort to avoid overnight mail expenses wherever possible. Nonetheless, sometimes the exigencies of the case demand its use. In that event, the firm will make every effort to use the least expensive overnight mail service available. However, we must take into account the fact that some delivery services have restrictions (such as the refusal to deliver to post office boxes) that necessitate the use of a more expensive overnight delivery service. Photocopying
Only when copies exceed 35 in number or is performed by an outside organization the firm passes on the cost or charges fifteen cents per photocopied page only that which we believe is equivalent to our cost. Telephone Charges
Many telephone calls devoted to advancing the client’s interests are toll-charged calls. The firm will pass on the charge for such calls to the client at cost. Fax Charges
Faxes are used to communicate rapidly with the client or others. The firm charges nothing for the receipt of faxes, Only when faxes exceed 10 pages in number or are performed by an outside organization but $1.00 per page for faxes sent on behalf of a client. Email is avoided because of the current discovery rule that exist in the Commonwealth but will be used to the extent possible that there is a clear need or benefit by doing so. Computerized Research
The firm has computer research capability, the cost of which the firm treats as overhead. The firm also maintains its own library of hardbound books and has other research materials available at no cost to the client. Occasionally the need arises for research for which a cost may be imposed, in which event the costs will be passed along to the client. We use the research means most appropriate for the client’s case under the circumstances and expect to be reimbursed at cost to the extent we use services that charge a fee for use. BILLING ADMINISTRATION
Behold! A lawyer and an honest man! Receipts
We make every effort to document with receipts every expense for which reimbursement is sought. A copy of such receipts accompanies the monthly bill. Disputed Bills
We do not charge for time spent discussing bills with clients. We encourage an open discussion with clients as to our bills and billing practices. Intrafirm Conferencing
We do not charge a fee for intrafirm conferencing. For exceptionally large matters or matters involving a large team of personnel, however, efficient and effective case management may sometimes require team meetings. In this event, our firm seeks the client’s prior authority to bill for such meetings. INFORMATION MANAGEMENT
It is not so important to know everything as to know the exact value of everything, to appreciate what we learn and to arrange what we know. The value of an exhibit depends on the attorney’s ability to locate appropriate information and to wield it effectively whether in motion work, depositions and discovery, or at the time of trial. An exhibit is valueless if it is not found when needed or was never located due to an incomplete document review. Many cases are won or lost depending on a few words contained in a handful of exhibits. We maintain our basic set of client files at no cost to the client. However, some cases are sufficiently large or information-intensive that proper information management requires certain steps to be taken such as numbering or listing of documents to most effectively and efficiently represent the client. We make every effort to tailor the management needs of the case early in its life so that this information resource becomes a powerful tool at our disposal throughout the case. REPORTING
A businessperson’s judgment is no better We believe that clients should never wonder what is going on in their case. We report case developments of significance regularly to clients so that they are always abreast of events. In addition, our clients are provided with copies of letters sent even letters of lesser significance in order to give the client the flavor of day-to-day case developments. EVALUATION AND SETTLEMENT
Discourage litigation. Persuade your neighbor to compromise whenever you can. As a peacemaker, the lawyer has a superior opportunity of being a good man. There will still be business enough. Abraham Lincoln [one of histories most prolific litigator] Unless our clients instruct us otherwise, we prepare every case for as if it is
destined for trial,
and we are prepared to go the distance when appropriate. One of
the benefits of successful trial preparation frequently is an accurate assessment of
the chances of success and a complete understanding of the strengths and
weaknesses of the case, which often results in a settlement. In contrast, preparing a
case for settlement frequently results in a trial that the client sought to avoid.
In order to assist clients in making informed business decisions, we evaluate liability, causation, and damages issues early in the life of a case. We reevaluate this information as necessary and discuss how recent events affect our evaluation. We discuss with our client opportunities for settlement, the likelihood of winning or losing at trial, settlement impediments, and unique settlement strategies. Respect for the Client’s Dollar
Clients generally are not happy when embroiled in litigation and do not enjoy being made to pay for the privilege. We make every effort to counsel clients about the costs and benefits of discovery and trial strategies, and to commit the client’s funds as cautiously as we would our own. Consultant Services
Consultants and experts frequently are excellent resources for effective litigation. We prefer to involve them early in our effort to ferret out important issues and to shape the case in a way beneficial to the client. Where consultants are necessary, the agreements and billing occur directly between client and consultant. We will happily review and discuss the consultant’s bills with our client, if that service is requested. We expect the consultant to meet the same high standards our clients expect of us for instance, they should provide incremental billing and billing descriptions. For strategic reasons (experts’ files are discoverable during litigation) less specific bills from consultants are sometimes necessary. CLIENT INVOLVEMENT IN CASE MANAGEMENT
Success is simple. Do what’s right, the right way, at the right time. Clients can be as involved in the management of their case as much or as little as they wish to be. Some prefer to navigate throughout the case, whereas others do not. Our initial evaluation letter and, thereafter in report letters, we will propose a course of action that we will adopt unless instructed otherwise within a reasonable period of time. We welcome input and suggestions from clients and, of course, honor their instructions. Lawyering is a service business. We endeavor to be responsive to our clients’ needs and desires. Many clients’ offices are located in different time zones. We make ourselves available personally, by email, and by telephone office and cell so that we can rapidly communicate with clients. We make every effort to return phone calls within one hour of the receipt of a message. BUDGETING
If a man empties his purse into his head, no one can take it away from him. An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest. Many clients require budgets, and we are happy to provide them. Obviously, there are items that cannot be budgeted: many matters are completely beyond our control. As a result, our budget can be adjusted as necessary and in order to factor into a client’s decision about whether to settle or to continue to litigate a case.

Source: http://www.pennlaw.us/USEFUL_LINKS_files/Billing%20Philosophy.pdf

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