Charging for barbies

Tulkinghorn knows there are a lot of law firms looking to bolster profitability in the current economic downturn. Perhaps they should take some notes from those entrepreneurial types down under on 'creative billing'.

Last week the Solicitors Complaints Tribunal in Australia heard a case in which a name partner at Shine Roche McGowan, a firm of Queensland ambulance-chasers, had billed A$300 (£115) an hour for work done by secretaries. The tribunal found that, for the “unusually high” rate, the client had been charged for numerous secretarial tasks, such as purchasing and wrapping a “box of chocolates and a nice thank you card” for a doctor. The client was also charged for a phone call made by a secretary to a person in Chinchilla, Australia, who had mistakenly sent a fax to the firm.

Mind you, any partners seriously considering this type of creative billing should remember that the partner was given a 12-month suspension by the tribunal for his efforts.