Time for Change: Unethical Hourly Billing in the Canadian Profession and What Should Be Done About It
La Revue Du Barreau Canadien, Vol. 83, p. 859, 2004
36 Pages Posted: 3 Sep 2009 Last revised: 12 Jun 2010
Date Written: 2004
In the United States hourly billing by lawyers has been demonstrated to lead to both inefficiencies, where clients pay for work done to generate hours rather than results, and dishonesty. While the vast majority of Canadian legal work is billed on an hourly basis, no attempt has been made in Canada to analyze either whether hourly billing leads to the same ethical problems here or whether the regulatory regime governing hourly billing by Canadian lawyers is sufficient. This essay argues that hourly billing leads to inefficiency, the temptation to be dishonest and to dishonesty in fact in the Canadian profession. After outlining the weaknesses in the current regulation of hourly billing - both formal and market - the essay outlines some regulatory reforms which could help to prevent and correct both the specific forms which unethical hourly billing takes and its causes.
Keywords: billing, legal ethics, regulation
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