Letter published in the Evening Standard, 12 October 2016

Any system of charging for professional services can be abused but lawyers charging clients for time going to the toilet certainly is over the top [“Lawyers do put in the hours – in loo”, Comment, October 7 (see below)].  However, lawyers are often unable to charge a fair fixed fee based on the job they do if that job consists of helping two or more parties reach an agreement, which could take hours or months.  Charging on a time-spent basis may be the only option that is fair to both parties.

Ronnie Fox

Published in Comment in the Evening Standard – Lawyers do put in the hours – in loo
7 October 2016

So it turns out that lawyers on £100 an hour are charging their clients for their time on the loo – on the basis that they spend their time brooding on cases while defecating.

This raises yet again the question of why it is that lawyers can’t charge, like electricians, on the basis of the job they do, not the time they spend.  As a way of rewarding inefficiency, on or off the toilet, it’s unsurpassed.

There’s a gender aspect to this, you know.  A while back, a report on getting more women into the legal profession suggested that women who have to juggle family and work commitments are signally better at managing their time than men.  So by paying people rationally, for actual work, you reward the efficient and penalise the taxi-meter practitioners.  Mind you, we’re talking normal women here, not Amal Clooney.

Tell me, someone, what incentive is there, right now, for lawyers to do their job as quickly as possible?