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Interdiction of over-time charges by law firms

One common refrain in outside counsel guidelines is, “We will not pay for over-time costs.” It’s easy to see why a law department would not want to pay time-and-a-half for its work, unless it has demanded an emergency response by a law firm. This prohibition, however, like many that dot outside counsel guidelines, has a self-evident quality. Why take pains to list misjudgments and inefficiencies that are obviously verboten? If a law firm repeatedly charges overtime when there’s no client-generated reason, the law department can clamp down on that firm. The law department doesn’t need to cite a provision in its guidelines.

If a law department states that law firms should manage its client’s funds as if they were the firm’s own, or as they would want another firm representing them to manage their own funds, that seems sufficient grounds to extirpate thoughtless, malignant, and costly acts by counsel.