June 06, 2005

The Pricetag of the Law

by Armen

No this isn't some hysterical rant against the de facto exclusion of the indigent from the legal system, but it's pretty damn close. I noticed the dilemma earlier today during when a former clerk for my judge commented that she feels uncomfortable in private practice because she can't research issues as much as she would like to, in part because her clients are non-profits who don't want to see too many billable hours (and by too many I assume 3).

But I doubt the problem lies with the client's desire to keep costs down. Why does it cost so much to look up the law (however defined by lexis and westlaw reps)? This is such a fundamental part of the practice of law. I probably spent 2400 hours researching for my brief last semester. Even then I don't think I found all the relevant cases. I just know I looked at a lot more cases for a simpler problem than any practicing attorney faces.

Similarly, the costs of attorneys for the time they spent researching is probably even more responsible for the law on the cheap practice that's prevalent in the private sector. Fundamentally there is a great disconnect between law school and actual practice (among many such disconnects) where constant research for that perfect case that's on point is an automatic must in one, but a dream worthy of camelot in the other.

There's always the stopping time option.

June 6, 2005 12:22 AM | TrackBack

2400 hours? If you researched for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, that would take you 14.3 weeks. Just for the research.

Posted by: Josh at June 6, 2005 10:27 AM

Very observant. If you dig a little more you will notice that 2400 is also the number of annual billable hours mandated by many firms. In this case, I think it's safe to call it a hyperbole/metaphor.

Posted by: Armen at June 6, 2005 11:15 PM
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