Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Did Annette Ziegler Pad Her Hours As An Attorney?

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has an article about a lawyer who is in hot water for allegedly padding his hours in order to collect a bonus from a law firm he used to work for.

The bonus came into play when an attorney billed for 1,800 hours in one year. Considering that the work year is 2,080, including vacation time, that would be almost 100% productivity, which is hard to believe.

The argument in itself isn't so interesting, but one of the observations at the end is:
During oral argument Justice Annette Ziegler said that when she was in private practice, she billed a lot more than 1,800 hours a year.
Apparently she has always been without scruples.


  1. Republicans are a confused bunch, they harp about "freedom" all the time, but it doesn't mean freedom for everybody, it means freedom for themselves as rugged individuals to do what ever they want.
    Setting up any legal or ethical rules is just an impediment to their freedom, which they fell they're entitled to.
    They complain about "entitlements," or rights, for the poor and vulnerable as abhorent--because those entitlements cost them money.
    Ziegler is in a very well-to-do family of financial industry do-gooders, who could not care less about the poor and vulnerable.
    She sees no problem in padding her hours...
    And she's on the State Supreme Court?!

  2. Billing targets assume that attorneys aren't working just 40 hours a week, and no attorney assumes that 40 hours a week will get the job done. 50 is "at least" and 60 isn't the least bit uncommon. I don't have any great love for Justice Ziegler, but don't accuse her of something you can't prove just because you don't know enough about how lawyers work.

  3. Attorneys will also charge a full hour's rate for even a few minutes of time. I once hired one to draw up and file incorporation papers. After to a few weeks, when nothing seemed to be happening, I phoned his office and spoke with the secretary for a few minutes to confirm that the papers had indeed been filed. I then received a bill in the mail for one hour of the attorney's time at the rate of $75, which I immediately placed in the circular file.

    That sort of billing practice can rack up hours fairly quickly.

  4. Anon, 8:29

    I understand that partners expect 50 hours/week from associates. I understand a lot of attorneys meet their goals in a variety of ways including enormous effort.

    I'm concerned that your assertions leave an impression, however, which is not accurate. If it were so easy to bill 50hours/week, there would not be such a glut of attorneys who are forced to ADVERTISE that they take cases on a contingency. If your assertion were even partially true, most attorneys could afford a chauffeured drive to work. Better to bill hours in the back of a limo, than to waste time commuting.

    With incredible speed, the law in all areas moves and changes. Local, state, and federal changes all apply. As you know attorneys cannot wait for the changes, they have to keep abreast of PROPOSED changes. No one is going to pay their attorney to keep up with these changes or read law journals.

    It's always been a tough profession. The ill-named "tort reform," has only made it more difficult. Most attorneys need to allot time for scheduling, meeting with new clients, partner, associate discussions and the always challenging receiveables management. As you know, a lot of the hours those functions require "get passed on" sometimes in rather creative ways.