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A view opposed to my own about getting bills in draft from law firms

A month ago I criticized the practice of reviewing draft invoices from law firms (See my post of Oct. 25, 2009: don’t waste time on draft bills.). Sure enough, I then ran across an in-house counsel who favors the practice.

The lawyer is Paul Cushing, litigation and compliance counsel of hospital and health care organization Partners HealthCare System Inc. His views came to my attention when Sheri Qualters, writing for the National Law Journal, on Nov. 24, 2009, noted some comments by panelists at a recent LMA conference in Boston. One was Cushing: “An outside lawyer who sent him a copy of the bill before submitting it internally at the law firm impressed Cushing because it opened up a discussion instead putting the onus on the in-house counsel to question the bill after the fact, he said.”

Discussions are excellent, but you can discuss a final bill without a debilitating onus. Why review twice?

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3 responses to “A view opposed to my own about getting bills in draft from law firms”

  1. dan says:

    The main reason to review a draft bill is because a partner at a law firm has more difficulty modifying rates after they finalize the bill — at least in a lot of law firms based on their practices.
    That stated, I prefer establishing budgets beforehand. Then, if an invoice goes outside the budget parameters, that should facilitate a conversation.
    Either way, the key is open communication.

  2. Kevin Fay says:

    The only time I’d see a draft bill is if the partner wanted to negotiate a downward push without incurring the wrath of the partnership bureaucracy. I’d consider this a victory.
    The lawyers I use in the U.K. regularly call to discuss the bill prior to sending it – apparently it’s an ethical requirement there.

  3. I agree with Dan, I think that open communication is key and you want to make sure that everyone understands the parameters of each document.