Hourly billing is a ridiculous concept, though whoever thought of it was a genius. Seriously, if you tried to pull this hourly billing shit in any other aspect of your life, people would consider you retarded, but it's par for the course for a lawyer. Here are a few reasons why I think it's so ridiculous:
1) The amount of time you spent on something does not have any bearing on the quality of product you will produce. Example: Your grades in school were never based on the amount of time you spent studying. You never went up to one of your teachers and said, "But Professor, I worked on this paper for 8 hours. I deserve an A." Do you know why you didn't? Because, even though you spent a lot of time on it, your paper sucked and you deserved that C.
2) You're slow if you think lawyers record their time accurately. If I have to bill 2000 hours in a year, you better believe I'm fudging some time. Yeah, that brief may have only taken me an hour, but the client doesn't know that. Now I have a two hour brief. Ta-da!
3) It encourages lawyers to be even less productive. This is a nice illustration of how much time it actually takes to fill up your annual billable hours. Fuck that. I guarantee I could finish all of my work and be in and out of my office in four hours each day and you probably could too. Don't believe me? Just watch someone who is leaving early or going on vacation. Their work gets done FAST.