Survey reveals associate fee-padding

The two sectors were chosen because they have suffered the greatest squeeze on fees, and hourly billing targets tend to be highest at up to 8.5 hours per day.

A survey carried out by Australian management consultant Linda Julian showed a number of commonly used methods of padding bills.

One was to make phone calls at a time when the client was unlikely to be in. Another was to 'leverage' time spent by completing a number of small jobs on different files in a six-minute time slot, and then charging work done on each as a separate six-minute slot.