Lord Neuberger accuses solicitors of time padding
25 October 2013
The President of the Supreme Court has implied lawyers may be ripping off their clients by chasing ever greater fees and refusing to ditch the chargeable hour.
In a speech this week Lord Neuberger said that reliance on the traditional hourly rate encouraged "inefficiency or worse
" - the worse being no doubt, in layman's terms, time padding. He lamented law firms' increased focus on profits over the last few years. And he made the fairly unarguable point that "if a lawyer is short of work, it can be surprising how much time a particular task takes. The hourly rate rewards the slow and ignorant lawyer at the expense of the speedy and knowledgeable lawyer
That a pretty big bollocking from the nation's most senior judge. And it was all the more embarrassing given that the Evening Standard
subsequently brought it to the attention of City clients. And given
that the lecture was delivered at Freshfields
, whose partners (average
earnings £25,000 a week) would have been listening with sphincters
as tight as wingnuts.
||A Freshfields' partner's bottom, earlier this week
Neuberger said that the profession had a duty to provide "cheap and speedy
" legal advice, and there was a public interest in keeping fees as low as possible. Although he was silent as to how this might be brought about.