In Maryland, most retainer agreements state that the attorney will submit a monthly bill for legal services rendered and that the attorney will bill in increments of one-tenth (1/10th) of an hour. The purpose of receiving a monthly bill is to keep the client fully informed of the nature and cost of the attorney’s legal services. If the attorney does not submit a monthly bill or fails to bill in increments of 0.1 hours, it is both a breach a contract and violation of Rule 1.4 of the Maryland Lawyers’ Rules of Professional Conduct.
If the attorney does not submit monthly invoices, it is a strong indication that the attorney is not keeping contemporaneous records. Without contemporaneous time records, an attorney will often resort to reconstructing the time records or backdating bills. The inherent inaccuracies of such reconstructed invoices should be resolved against the attorney. In Attorney Grievance Commission v. Ross, the Maryland Court of Appeals in August 2012 disbarred an attorney for (among other reasons) that (1) he failed to submit monthly invoices; (2) he failed to bill in 0.1 hour increments; and (3) he failed to maintained contemporaneous time records. The Court of Appeals further found that the attorney’s reconstructed time records were fabrications to coverup his overbilling and theft of funds from his client.