Time is Money—the Ethics of Hourly Billing by Lawyers
|關鍵字:||法律倫理;律師報酬;計時收費;委任契約;不當收費;報告義務;Legal Ethics;Attorney's Fees;Hourly Billing;Contract of Mandate;Unethical Billing;Report Obligation|
Due to the difficulties to find out the exact time lawyers spent on the cases, clients might suspect that lawyers pad their work, or even inflate the number of billable hours. The unethical billing problem of lawyers has been a controversial issue in the U.S. Some commentators even suggested that hourly billing shall be abandoned. Since 75% of law firms in Taiwan adopt hourly billing, we might have similar problems as the American legal profession has with regard to hourly billing. Based on the constitutional right to court access, this thesis investigates the features of lawyers’ service, and the importance of reasonableness and transparency in attorney’s fees. This thesis contends that, according to the Mandate Chapter of the Civil Code and Article 35 of Ethical Regulation of Lawyers, lawyers are obligated to report to clients accurately and promptly all information related to attorney’s fees, such as, the ways lawyers calculate attorney fees, actual time lawyers spent, and the specific tasks lawyers provide. If lawyers fail to meet the above-mentioned requirements, lawyers shall not demand for the parts of fee from clients. According to the survey results of this thesis, law firms in Taiwan seldom evaluate lawyers by billable hours they collect. Hence, lawyers charging by hourly rate in Taiwan have lower incentive to charge clients unethically then those in the U.S. Therefore, this thesis is of the opinion that hourly billing needs not be abandoned in Taiwan. Instead, this thesis tries to find mechanisms to reduce unethical hourly billing. This thesis also suggests recommendations for revising Ethical Regulation of Lawyers in reference of the rules of legal ethics in the United States, Germany, and Japan. This thesis contends that by means of different mechanisms, such as setting up internal control mechanisms in law firms, unethical behaviors of hourly billing will be effectively reduced.
|Appears in Collections:||Thesis|
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