Kansas Supreme Court Says It’s Unethical Not to Track Your Time

The fragment of statue of Cain by Henry Vidal in Tuileries Garden in Paris, France

From the opinion:

The lawyer in this case had plenty of other issues, but every law student knows it takes more than a time sheet to determine the reasonableness of a lawyer’s fee. And what’s the point in billing flat fees (which at least some clients do want) if you still have to reduce everything to time in the end? [MyShingle]


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  • Robert Schaefer

    amazing what people so far removed from reality thing what ethical is. All of them rose to their positions from prosecutorial jobs or from white shoe law firms. No one ever slugged it out as a solo or small business attorney. Now, they say that if you had only tracked hours worth of work, you would be okay. Pathetic. When did the bar association become a consumer protection agency.

    • When did the bar association become a consumer protection agency.

      That’s obviously not a simple statement/question, but the short answer is that the bar (meaning all us lawyers) gets an exclusive right to practice law in exchange for our agreement to police the profession for the purpose of protecting clients/consumers. If you want UPL laws to mean something, the deal is you have to protect consumers. (Do they still mean anything? Fair question.)

      What does that have to do with this post? Not a lot, in my mind. If the Kansas Supreme Court’s purpose was to protect consumers, requiring this lawyer to track his time is a damn strange way to go about it.

  • edkless

    The problem was the inclusion of this in the contract, “TERMINATION BY CLIENT: You may terminate this agreement at any time, but you must give the Firm written notice of the termination. If you terminate this agreement, you are still obligated to pay the fees and expenses accrued to the time of termination. Said fees shall be calculated at the rate of $250 per hour.”

    If you are offering a fixed price this clause is a problem. Take away this clause and the decision is likely very different.

    In any case your headline is very misleading.

    • In the paragraph from which I quoted, the court was laying out a general rule. It wrote “a lawyer must,” not “this lawyer should have.” So I don’t think the headline is in the least bit misleading.

      You may be right that the language of the retainer agreement swayed the court, but that clause would not have applied because the client did not terminate the representation.

      • edkless

        True, but the judge cited that paragraph in the opinion. There was no mention of a “Terminal by lawyer.”

        My point is more nuance is and was required here.

  • Paul Spitz

    I have legal documents that only take me 5-10 minutes to customize for a client, but I charge a flat rate of several hundred dollars, not 10 minutes times my hourly rate of $250. My price is based on the value of the document to the client, as well as the amount of time that I put into developing the document in the first place, which may have been done long before I took on the particular client. So good thing I’m not in Kansas!