Who Pays for the Shiny Marble Floors and Fancy Paintings In Your High-Priced Attorney’s Office?

The short answer is – you are!

I have visited many attorneys’ offices for mediations, depositions, meetings, and settlement conferences. Some of these offices are beautiful – I mean museum beautiful with magnificent views to boot. As a solo practitioner with a very modest (yet efficient) office, I never understood it.

These firms can afford such extravagant offices because they bill their clients $400 or $500 per hour for partners and $300 for associate attorney work. Frequently, if two attorneys within the firm talk to each other for an hour about a case, they can easily bill their client $700 or $800 per hour by charging their client both attorneys’ hourly rate. No wonder their offices are so nice!

As any smart person knows that the beauty and overhead a law office maintains is in no way reflective of the quality of work that comes out of that firm. The judges never see the expensive paintings in the office’s hallway so it is both unlikely and unethical for the judge to rule in an attorney’s favor because the attorney’s office is nice. Nor do these fancy offices in any way guarantee your attorney’s availability to you.

Also, both the partners and associate attorneys in may, if not all, of these larger offices have minimum billing requirements. That’s right – within a certain time frame, these lawyers are required to bill “x” amount of hours or they do not get their end of the year bonus or get the promotion they are working so hard to obtain. These requirements make it very difficult for a lawyer in one of these firms to be as efficient with your case as possible.

This is the bottom line for any business – you need an attorney that will zealously and efficiently represent you. You do not need an attorney with a fancy office that needs to charge you more than is necessary to get handle your legal matter.

The information on this blog is not legal advice, nor is it intended to create an attorney-client relationship. Legal questions should be directed to a lawyer of your own choosing.

Scott D. Wu is an attorney licensed to practice in California. His firm focuses on various aspects of business law, family law, personal injury and real estate.