There are two divorce lawyers. Lawyer A charges 300$ per hour, while Lawyer B charges 400$ per hour. Say, you hired Lawyer A for your divorce and then called him to talk about the hearing schedule and the call took three minutes. When you received your bills, you saw that he charged you 60$ for that short call. On the other hand, if you hired Lawyer B instead of A, called for three minutes to talk about the case, you will be charged you 40$.
Isn’t Lawyer A supposed to be the less expensive option? And Lawyer A should have charged you $15.00, and Lawyer B $20.00? There must be some error in the numbers, right?
Well, the figures speak the truth. Here’s why:
Lawyers charge by the hour. Such hourly rates depend on many factors such as but not limited to the latter’s experience, work location or good reputation. However, when the service they provided or work they performed is less than an hour, say three minutes, that is where the other math that’s involved: a divorce lawyer’s billing increments.
Lawyers do charge for the hour, but not for the actual minutes spent. Most of the lawyers in law firms have their bill time in one-tenth (1/10) hour increments or in (2/10) hour increments. In the example above, Lawyer A charged increments of .10 of an hour, which means that one hour on the clock is broken down into six-minute standard billing increments, while Lawyer B charges 0.20 of an hour, which is 12 minutes. These increments serve as minimum charges and the shortest time possible to perform their task. So, even when the call lasted for only three minutes, it automatically became six minutes for Lawyer A, and 12 minutes for Lawyer B.
In other words, you pay more than your lawyer’s hourly rate every time a 0.10 increment lawyer works less than six minutes, or a 0.20 increment lawyers works less than 12 minutes.
Just before you change your mind into hiring either lawyers, remember that this computation only applies when the work rendered by your lawyer is less than the six minutes for 0.10 increment billing, and less than 12 minutes for 0.20 increment billing. It no longer applies if the minutes exceed the minimum standard billing increments.
In the end, while you cannot eliminate the generation of incremental billing, you can reduce them by 1) finding our what increment a lawyer uses before you avail of his services, 2) control minimum charges by avoiding them as much as possible.
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