High profile Australian lawyer attacks profession for overcharging

September 16, 2010 Brian Bartley, the Chairman of the Queensland Law Society's ethics committee, has accused Australian law firms of overcharging clients by using secretaries as paralegals. According to Bartley, staff who lack legal qualifications are performing routine and mundane work at a rate of up to $300 an hour, while earning salaries of less than $20 an hour.

Bartley says that some law firms have constructed complex fee structures in order to make it less obvious that secretaries are being charged out as lawyers, and that the use of the term "paralegals" has been used to encourage the perception that the workers are highly skilled.

He said: "Instead of criticising time billing, we need to deal with the abuses of time billing practised by some within the profession."

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