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The Honest Hour

The Ethics of Time-Based Billing By Attorneys

Second Edition

by William G. Ross

ISBN 978-1-59460-691-5

In The Honest Hour, Ross explains how to formulate ethical standards for time-based billing. Tapping a broad range of sources, including judicial opinions, rules of professional conduct, bar association opinions, fee agreements, bar journals, law reviews, personal interviews, and nationwide surveys of hundreds of attorneys that he conducted in 1991, 1995, and 2007, Ross shows how members of the business and legal communities view the propriety of various billing practices. Ross also evaluates the magnitude of unethical billing, drawing on his surveys, the experiences of legal audit firms, and anecdotes. Although he concludes that overbilling is widespread, he contends that most attorneys try to bill their clients ethically and that much overbilling is the result of excessive zeal rather than fraud. He also explains how clarification and reform of billing practices could help to improve the public image of attorneys and stimulate greater public service by lawyers.

The Honest Hour discusses how attorneys and their clients can work together to develop fee agreements that will permit attorneys to spend enough time to produce quality work, while guarding against practices that exploit clients. The book also covers the merits and disadvantages of various alternatives of hourly billing and the reactions of clients and lawyers to their experiences with such alternatives.

"The book is intriguing and provocative… [It] is intended as a text for professional responsibility classes and law practicums where it can serve as an excellent resource for initiating discussions. Managing partners, in-house counsel, legal auditors, and corporate clients also will find this book useful when examining billing practices and alternatives." — Legal Information ALERT, on the first edition

"You have the leading academic expert in the country on this subject in Bill Ross — he is really in the forefront. Bill's surveys are right on. Everything I've seen since I started back in 1987 says they're about right." James Schratz, Schratz and Associates, in The Birmingham News, on the first edition