As an exercise for my ethics class, I had each student write down his or her top ten commandments of billing. My hope was that the students would both learn these rules and have them in a nice, easy place to find and print once they start practice. As the Ten Commandments was on this past weekend, it seemed appropriate to post the top ten commandments from the class.
1. Thou Shall Keep Track of One’s Time, Whilst Not Waiting Until the End of the Month to Write Them Down.
2. Thou Shall Scribble Thy Fees on Papyrus and Present Them to Thy Client
3. Thou Shall Not Overbill, Nor Double Bill, Nor any Multiples Thereof
4. Thou Shall Not Bill Your Client for an Hour of Work Because You Thought About the Case for Two Minutes in the Shower
5. Thou Shall Not Runneth The Meter for Additional Billing Hours
6. Thou Shall Not Wing It; Thou Shall Have and Hold to Thy Billing Guidelines
7. Thou Shall Not Recycle Thy Work as if It Had Been Born Anew
8. Thou Shall Return Thy Clients’ Phone Calls
9. Thou Shall Not Sue Thy Clients for Unpaid Bills (Unless You Want to be Countersued for Malpractice)
10. Thou Shall Not Sell Thy Soul to a Firm with Billing Requirements that Do Not Meet Thy Personal Expectations for a Work and Family Balance
Are we missing any of your favorite commandments? What else should we make sure our students think about in order to avoid the messiest of conflicts, those with clients?