Solicitor Costs: Attendance Notes

It is important that solicitors keep attendance notes of discussions they have had and instructions they have received. This is one of the reasons why solicitors will usually ask for any important instructions to be given in writing.

Where a solicitor has to make a note of discussions or events it is called an attendance note. Solicitors are usually professionally obliged to keep these, although it can be difficult to do this fully if they are trying to do other things at the same time.

Most attendance notes can be made as you go along. If you are on the phone you can type the note while speaking. If you are in a meeting you can make written notes during the meeting. If you are at Court you can usually write your notes up on the train back.

Unfortunately preparation of attendance notes is also an easy way for a solicitor to "pad" their charges. You are charged both for the time being there and the time for writing up the note. Typically the solicitor will have made hand-written notes and then dictates these up. Unless the typed version was specifically required there is no need for this. Even more questionable is where you are on the phone to the solicitor for a couple of minutes and they charge you a standard unit (6 minutes) for the call and another (recorded as "preparation time) for making the note of the call. Suddenly the amount you are being charged is doubled.

This is a double secret method of billing clients, because of the fact that you will never spot it in the client care documentation. Solicitors are moving into the new century. Most can type and will have a computer on their desk. The computer will usually be able to accept an immediate attendance note. If you receive a bill including time for preparing attendance notes you should therefore ask why. We also recommend you ask what the policy is on attendance notes before you sign up with a solicitor.