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Billing Dispute Can Be Used as Learning Opportunity for Law Students

Cindy Pham Posted in Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers®

In the wake of a very public fee dispute involving one of the world’s largest law firms, Professor Benjamin Madison, an Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers Fellow, recommends that law schools turn it into a learning opportunity “to better prepare law students and to make them more attentive to ethical concerns.” Professor Madison suggests that by teaching students more about billing, such as the importance of careful time-keeping and ethical billing practices, they will learn valuable skills that may strengthen the lawyer-client relationship.

As an example, Professor Madison discusses his plans to incorporate an hourly rate into his class assignments. His students will have to independently keep track of their billable hours and will be put in situations where they must decide how to ethically round their billable hours. Professor Madison hypothesizes that independent time-keeping will result in billing discrepancies that “will provide an opportunity to discuss the necessity to be careful in contemporaneous recording and developing the habit of recording precisely when one starts and finishes a project or task.” Professor Madison also suggests inviting respected practitioners into class after such sessions to provide first-hand tips on how they handle billing.

Professor Madison’s State Civil Procedure course is highlighted on the Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers website. Click here to view the course portfolio and teaching materials.

Cindy Pham is a third year law student at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law and contributes to IAALS Online. Please direct inquiries about this post to iaals@du.edu.