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Kaplan College Paralegal Studies


October 2005

Travel Tips for Lawyers on The Road

Lawyers love to travel. While billable hours are the primary perk associated with traveling, there are many other advantages lawyers enjoy when going out of town. The travel tips described below, if carefully followed, can assure the success of any lawyer's business trip.

  • Airplane seat assignment. Real lawyers don't fly coach. After all, legal counsel has to be comfortable while sipping champagne, watching the in-flight movie and catching up on some recreational reading -- all at the usual hourly rate. En route, instead of preparing for your meeting, take the opportunity to drum up some new business by passing your business cards around the first class cabin.
  • Special Travel Advisory: Be aware that your client may be on the same flight. If this is the case, it's always a nice touch to order a drink and have the flight attendant deliver it to your client sitting in the coach section of the plane.
  • Hotel Accommodations. Attorneys should always remember an important rule of the road: Where you stand depends on where you sleep. In other words, lawyers judge each other primarily on their ability to run up expense accounts. Overnight accommodations are a major part of this equation. You should therefore book the Presidential Suite at the most expensive hotel in town. Other lawyers will not respect you if you are at the Holiday Inn Express.
  • Hotel Mini Bar and Room Service. The utilization of hotel room service and the daily depleting of hotel room mini bars play an important role in the practice of law. That $38.00 cheeseburger from room service washed down with $24.00 one-ounce bottles of mini bar Scotch tastes so much better when your client is paying for it.
  • Entertainment. Broadway shows, helicopter tours of the city, box seats at the ballgame and similar items can almost always be added to an expense account without the client squawking. Some clients, however, may object to expenses incurred for such items as private parties and in-room entertainment. The way to deal with these items is to lump them in with limousine service, haircuts, manicures and the private masseuse and label them as "miscellaneous expenses" on the client's bill.
  • Gifts. After working hard and doing a great job, most clients won't mind if you pick up a little something for yourself and your secretary. Matching robes from the hotel are one great gift idea. And, for once, you won’t be stealing them from the hotel.

Lawyers are reminded to show some restraint in charging clients for travel expenses. The "friends fly free" concept, for instance, is a special deal offered by some airlines. It is not meant to be used for purposes of bringing your own friends along on business trips and adding them to the client's expense account.

Billable time on the road must also be limited to the lawyer's waking hours. Many have heard stories about lawyers billing for time they spend sleeping while out of town on business. Such stories, however, are only Firm fable and a gross exaggeration of how far lawyers will go. Well, maybe not a gross exaggeration but attorneys usually do refrain from "sleep billing." The exception to this rule occurs when, due to staying up late the night before running up the expense account, an attorney dozes off during the meeting he or she traveled out of town to attend.

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