The 9,000 Hour Man

An interesting little footnote on the hourly rate emerges from litigation over an ex-Clifford Chance partner (Martin Rogers) between US law firm Davis Polk and Alan Metz, a headhunter according to the Lawyer.

The point which caught my eye, picked up also by a Lawyer commenter Oxford Lawyer, is here:

“In the telephone conversation on 18 June 2012, Rogers gave Metz confidential information about his practice, including detailing his personal billings of HK$75m-100m (£6.4m-7m) and his supervised billings for his practice of HK$200m (£17.4m), as well as his personal billing rate of HK$9,500 (£773) per hour, according to the filing.”

Now assuming a) this information is correct; b) personal billings refer to his own billings rather than those of his team; and c) this refers to billings over one year, then this particular partner’s personal bills are the equivalent of working 7,900 to 10,500 hours at that hourly rate. I think this is what the costs gurus may refer to as value billing. 7,900 hours works out at 22 hours per day and 10,500 at 29,000 a day for 365 days a year. On top of that there the time necessary to supervise all those other billings.

Either my assumptions are incorrect, these figures are incorrect or we witness the first bionic lawyer; slipping through a space time continuum perhaps to create extra hours in the day. Even assuming some variation in the hourly rate, or work done other than on an hourly basis (say a contingency basis) these figures seem high. Perhaps someone can enlighten me?

…..

Postscript: a comment on the Lawyer story says this, “I think his personal billings of HK$75m-100m (£6.4m-7m) refer to his billing and the billings of the associates on matters which he is the billing partner. £6m-7m sounds about right to me. His supervised billings for his practice is the billing for the whole team including other litigation partners.”

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About Richard Moorhead

Director of the Centre for Ethics and Law and Professor of Law and Professional Ethics at the Faculty of Laws, University College London with an interest in teaching and research on the legal ethics, the professions, legal aid, access to justice and the courts.
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4 Responses to The 9,000 Hour Man

  1. Simon Goldhill says:

    This reminds me of that old joke. A man dies and goes up to heaven. He’s greeted at the Pearly Gates by St Peter and the whole Heavenly Host, with trumpets and great rejoicing. He’s amazed and asks St Peter ‘Why all the fuss?’. St Peter replies, because you were the oldest ever living lawyer, so must have done so much good in 110 years of practice. The man replies ‘But that’s impossible. I was only 43 when I died’. ‘Not according to your time sheets……’

  2. Nick Gould says:

    Two points ..

    1. I know that Dr Who will be replaced later this year—so maybe he is aiming to be a Time Lord;

    2. More seriously , you posted an excellent pieces recently about the ethics of professionals …is this a good example of non-ethics

    Best wishes

    Nick

  3. Mark Gould says:

    One possibility is that this is a consequence of time being recorded in fractional units. Most UK firms record time in six-minute chunks. Given that some jobs take less than six minutes, it is possible to record more than an hour’s chargeable time in a chronological hour.

    The classic example is the litigator who dictates five covering letters on five different matters in the space of six minutes. A unit is added to the account of each client to cover the work, but the sum is 30 minutes chargeable time, rather than six.

    However, I would be surprised if that practice made as significant an impact as we see here.

  4. Pingback: Morning round-up: Monday 17 June | Legal Cheek

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