Silicon Valley, California. Apple's new "Stop-Watch Legal Phone" was rolled out today for its initial demonstration at the monthly meeting of the Silicon Valley Bar association. The attorneys present were ecstatic.
The "Stop-Watch Legal Phone" is intended exclusively for those in the legal profession whose billing is done in small increments. That form has always presented a problem to lawyers, who normally scribble on a scrap of paper the time a professional call starts and finishes. At the end of the day it has been necessary to transcribe each of those notes, if found, onto a formal billing statement. With the new Apple phone that will no longer be necessary.
The Apple "Stop-Watch Legal Phone" is highly computerized and calculates the time each call was made and ended. For those firms whose billing increments are divisible evenly into 60, the phone can be calibrated into increments of two, three, four, five, six, ten and fifteen minutes. All calls are automatically timed by the phone's computer and a print-out is available at any time.
As a benefit to the lawyer's clients, a red warning light comes on fifteen seconds before the billing increment is reached, permitting the attorney to advise the client that a new increment is approaching. Most firms billing in small increments such as five or six minutes charge the client a full increment if the current call lapses into another incremental period. Apple acknowledges that the red light might entice unscrupulous attorneys to deliberately extend a conversation into that next increment, but warns that is unethical.
* If an incoming call is detected while the lawyer is talking to a client, pressing the flash button to interrupt the existing call will trigger the stop-watch feature, holding the time where it was when the other call came in. When the first call is resumed, the stop-watch automatically continues timing from where it left off.
* The new phone also totals the billing hours for the day, adding, for example, all the six-minute segments into a grand total for the day. The print-out lists the total time of calls to or from each client by name.
* All calls, both incoming and outgoing, are timed.
Apple will have the "Stop-Watch Legal Phone" on the market by Christmas. No price has yet been set.