Monday, April 8, 2013

As time goes by

The fundamentals of billing the practice of law will change if Alan Dershowitz and partners have their way;

Over the years, like any businessman, [David] Schottenstein has had a need of lawyers for routine issues. And each month, Schottenstein would get a bill in the mail from these lawyers. “Every time the bill came, it was like having a pit in my stomach,” he says. “I had no idea what I was in store for. I heard Darth Vader music in the background.” His lawyers would bill 50 hours for a task, when he would have told them to cap it at five. Sometimes he wondered if his lawyers simply looked at Schottenstein’s account at the end of each month and figured, “We didn’t hit him hard enough this month. He’s doing well.”
He fired three law firms before reaching out to a childhood friend from Columbus, Ohio, Robbie Friedman. Friedman had just left a big firm where he was unhappy and moved back to Columbus to hang out a shingle on a practice of his own. Schottenstein offered him a deal. He’d hire Friedman for all his legal work, but to avoid conflicts, Friedman would send him a list of everything he’d done, the hours spent, and the fees accrued. “That way I can tell you any time, stop doing whatever, shit’s out of control,” Schottenstein told his old friend.
“It worked like magic,” he says. Only, the process was slightly cumbersome for Friedman, who had to enter the data into an existing time system he used, and then re-send the data in an email. The two put their heads together to develop one system that would achieve both tasks, Viewabill.
Eventually interesting the famous lawyer in the product, even though he had to trade in his little black notebook for an iPad to use it. Now all they need are some customers.

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