There is a big new business in auditing legal bills. Most companies will do it for a percentage of the savings because overbillings are so common. Here are areas where overbillings are likely to occur.
1) Hidden names: Have all legal tasks itemized by who did them and their status at the firm. This way you won't get senior partners billing you for work that paralegals did.
2) Meetings: If your lawyer has meetings inside the firm, look for inconsistencies. If your lawyer meets with the other side's law team, check how long both sides report the meeting to be.
3) Overhead: New York law firms, in particular, are billing clients for shares of overhead, especially when lawyers come in on weekends. This is not something you should be paying for.
4) Friday billing: Most senior partners don't work much on Fridays. If you're being billed for senior partner time on Fridays, be alert.
5) Vague Language: When attorneys say that they thought about something or paid attention to something, they may have been doing something else at the same time.
6) Time segments: If your bill isn't broken out in 6-minute increments, it means that it may have been reconstructed from memory. The bills then are always higher than the billing of those who
religiously keep track of their time. If you have to have a bill audited, check the number of hours the attorney is working in a year to see if the same time is being billed twice.
7) Staff changes: You shouldn't have to pay to re-educate people if the workers on your case are shifted.
8) Billing for billing: Some law firms have the nerve to charge for the time it takes to prepare your bill. Federal judges recently rejected about three-quarters of the hours lawyers charged for billing.
9) Overqualified help: One recent bill had six hours charged at $245 an hour for room preparation. Senior partners shouldn't be charging you for photocopying, getting coffee, etc.
10) Check the math: Many simple addition errors occur in the lawyers' favor.