THE LAWYERS WEEKLY
August 20, 2010 | 21
DAMIRCUDIC / ISTCOKPHOTO.COM
Real or figment of disgruntled clients’ imagination?
Once you turn over
an incentive to
maximize the amount
of time spent on work
Bill padding has been an issue much discussed within
the legal profession over time — and it recently returned
on the radar of some lawyers as a topic in the blogos-
“Padding hours is a dirty little secret of the large firm
world,” according to the TechnoLawyer blog.
It is also the result of a billing system that is both
“stupid” and “evil,” and which fosters “bad incentives” for
lawyers, argues Philip Slayton, author of the controver-
sial 2007 Canadian bestselling book, Lawyers Gone Bad:
Money, Sex and Madness in Canada’s Legal Profession.
He recalls that during his 17-year career practising
corporate and commercial law with a major Bay Street
law firm, partners and associates were tied to time-
tracking software programs, such as the ironically named
Carpe Diem, which billed clients based on six-minute
“Once you turn over timekeeping to computers,
there’s an incentive to exaggerate and maximize the
amount of time spent on work for clients,” says Slayton,
a former dean of law at the University of Western
Ontario, who looked at bill padding in his book and who
still hears from Canadians about their “appalling experi-
ences” with lawyers and how they got “screwed” with
“In my view, a highly educated and, one hopes, tal-
ented and perhaps experienced professional to charge
according to time spent is inappropriate,” he says.