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An old-fashioned, client-disrespecting view by a well-known law firm of invoice information

A quote in the IBA Daily News, Oct. 5, 2010 at 1, stunned me.

Speaking on a panel at the International Bar Association Vancouver Conference, a partner from Simpson Thacher & Bartlett openly shared a set of beliefs that should have been long discredited. On the subject of invoicing, Todd Crider declared “I try my best to send a one page, one paragraph invoice with the description of the deal and the fee. If pushed, I’ll provide a list of the lawyers and what they did.” So, unless “pushed,” at the end of the matter here is the only information he feels clients deserve: “For legal services rendered in your acquisition of XYZ Corporation, $2,500,000.”

Dismayingly, but straight out of the guild attitude of patronizing superiority, Crider went on to reveal his justification. “But I think it’s harmful to the profession to give too much information. Clients will begin to manage you based on it.”

As some say, “You betcha they will, and should!” In-house lawyers, Mr. Crider, are also part of the profession and it does not harm them at all to understand exactly what their expensive outside counsel are up to as they run the meter. And it harms them not at all to have the temerity to manage their prima donna outside counsel: to direct what they should do, when, and with what staff.

Law firms haughtily bestowing their legal genius from a black box smacks of noblesse oblige.