Lawyer billed over 6,600 hours in year

Plausibility matters: “to hit $600,000 in two years Lester [a court-appointed defense lawyer in Charleston, W.V.] would have had to bill 13,333.3 hours during that time. This of course would be an average of 6,666.6 hours per year. Is that a lot? No. It’s an awful lot.” And when discovered, it got him in trouble, especially after an investigation found at least 17 days for which he had billed more than 24 hours. [Kevin Underhill, Lowering the Bar]


  • There is a possibility that Kevin Underhill fails to consider, namely that Bill Lester has multiple personalities which work in parallel. Each personality would put in normal working hours if he had three of them. Judging from the news that emerges from the legal profession these days, it may not even be a rarity for lawyers to have multiple personalities.

  • I’m surprised they only found 17 days for which he had billed more than 24 hours.

    Assuming he took no time off and worked 7 days a week (so he worked 365 days in the year) the stated number of hours is an average of 18.3 hours per day.

    Assuming he takes off just 1 day a week, with no other time off, it goes up to an average of 21.4 hours per day.

    Assuming a 5 day work week, he’s up to an average of 25.6 hours per day.

  • Maybe he was a graduate of Hogwarts and got his Time Turner there.

    Or, maybe he was a first year associate at the law firm.

    Either explanation is reasonable.

  • Maybe he was a former Kosinski clerk?

  • Odd. When my employer challenged lawyer billing practices in some fee shifting litigation, the Courts had no issues whatsoever allowing bulk billing, rounding up to the nearest half hour, and of course daily hours which totaled well in excess of 24 on average. and that was just information accumulated from cases that lawyer advanced against us, it did not include the greater volume of litigation against our competitors in the industry (which the Judge did not allow us to seek in discovery on the billing issue, and then faulted us for failing to present).

    The court accepted as perfectly reasonable plaintiff counsel’s assertions that his life consisted of his cases, his plant, and his cat – every day of the week and weekend, holidays, major sporting events, even when he was in court for other clients…

    Then awarded him fees on the fee motion, and a lodestar on all of it.

    *note that the actual client portion of the case had been settled well before the first exchange of discovery was complete, only the fees were at issue.

    That was CA. We had a similar experience in W.V., if not quite so egregious.

    Seemingly, the Court felt we needed to taught a lesson.

  • “I give 150% When working for my clients. And bill them for it”

  • $45/hour seems a bit low for legal representation, perhaps max allowed for public defender?

  • This always comes up in accounting ethics seminars because a CPA isn’t supposed to bill for more than 24 hours in a day. “Who gets to do that?”, someone inevitably asks. Of course the answer is “lawyers”.