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Wealth Planning News

Vol. V, No. 9

Time Sellers Are Never Best For Any One Or Any Job


Many professionals, and especially lawyers, choose to price their services based on time they spend. The idea is that any time one devotes to a job is valuable and a convenient way to price services to clients. Clients are given summaries showing some description of time spent, with a short description of work done during the alleged time period.


At best this approach rewards only time spent, while ignoring results in a particular matter, and value produced for a client.

Problems With Time Selling

At worst, billing for time discourages professional efficiency and use of any time saving systems. So it is against the interest of a professional, especially one in need of ongoing income, to do a job quickly or efficiently, or to settle any contested matter too quickly. Further, selling time leads to temptations to “pad” or fudge upward on claims of time spent. It also leads to the type of nickel and dime billing for short phone calls or any other quickly handled job for the client in order to obtain higher compensation for the time seller. Even worse for any client, time selling ignores results obtained or failures to obtain results desired by a client. The result is a proper and correct public perception of lawyers as mere time sellers who lack any real incentive to do well for clients quickly and efficiently


Smart consumers never seek legal services only for time with a lawyer, regardless of how charming the lawyer may be. Instead, consumers seek legal services for genuine needs they have unrelated to a time selling lawyer’s focus on time. Time selling often leads to a total disconnect between client needs and desires, and the lawyer’s duty to meet those client needs and satisfy the client desires. 


Time Selling Ignores True Value


There is often no logical connection between time spent by a time selling lawyer and the value, or lack of value of services to a client. For example, a real estate lawyer is hired to work on a transaction involving acquisition or sale by a client of a parcel of vacant land worth $50,000 in one case, and in another the property value is $5,000,000. Assume the lawyer time spent on each transaction is identical. Further assume the outcome for the client is identical, either a successful sale or acquisition on terms desired by the client or a failure to help achieve the client’s desired sale or acquisition. Who in their right mind would expect the lawyer fee to be the same in each case?

In This Issue

Time Sellers Are Never Best

Problems With Time Selling

Time Selling Ignores True Value



Or assume a lawyer does estate planning for a client with a total estate valued at $200,000 in one case, and does planning for a client with a $20,000,000 estate in another, or helps with administration and distribution of a $200,000 estate in one case and a $20,000,000 estate in another. In neither case is time spent any measure of the value of legal services to a client, or an adequate measure of responsibility assumed by the lawyer.


Bottom line: Avoid time sellers and choose an efficient and diligent lawyer who has an understanding of genuine client needs and desires and how to meet those needs promptly and properly. Frankly, you would probably not even hire a contractor to finish the game room in your basement based on time the contractor chooses to spend. You get a bid for the job and the result you want. The efficient contractor should make money on the job, and an inefficient contractor should not be able to bill you for his inefficiency.

Contact us to learn more about how we do things differently. 

Copyright 2022 Hopp & Associates, PC

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