Official Magazine of the Denver Bar Association

Billing With Alexa: The Costs Of Convenience



Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, Windows’ Cortana, and Google Home Assistant are now not only household names, but helpful personal assistants that have the capacity to help us greatly in our day-to-day lives. For lawyers, Alexa, in particular, can collaborate with several well-respected and often-utilized billing software programs to help making billing easier. The transition from Dictaphone or good old-fashioned paper to virtual assistant has not been easy though … or cheap. One local attorney, for example, complains she has unintentionally purchased over $2,000 of Amazon products from her virtual assistant.
“She picks up everything,” the attorney reports, in reference to her virtual assistant, Alexa. “Sometimes the things she orders are legal related, like, if I said I was reviewing a treatise or other authority — I have about six copies of Moore’s Federal Practice, for example (different editions, of course. She meticulously tracks my order history). Other times, they’re personal and unrelated to my actual billing entries. Recently, I said I wanted coffee just as I had wrapped up dictating a billing entry to Alexa. Two days later, I received my Prime delivery with an entire case of my not-so-inexpensive Columbian coffee beans. Whole. Apparently she knew I hadn’t previously ordered a grinder, so my order came with one of those too.”

Others have found their virtual assistants’ automatic ordering to be helpful. “She orders me things I didn’t even know I needed,” a local products liability attorney remarked. “The subjects of my cases involve all kinds of products …toys, car parts, hardware, appliances. She gets confused sometimes and places orders for me. Amazon has great customer service, so I know I could cancel the order if I needed to, but I’ve actually found use for virtually everything she has sent. I have dozens of kinds of screws from her picking up entries regarding my tractor-trailer cases, extra tires, a dog leash, a griddle, a hot plate, a pineapple corer … you name it. Although I also have ten boxes of uneaten Kinder Eggs and some Furbys I don’t quite know what to do with.”
“My billing entry of ‘Research effect of improper Ferrari engine installation’ was also quite expensive for me. A $375 per hour rate does not cover the down-payment on the engine that was delivered to my office.”

A first year bankruptcy associate remarked that her husband told her he asked Alexa to enter a billing entry stating “revise brief to tie in new arguments concerning statute of limitations.” He received a package three days later: a tie decorated with cats wearing Santa hats. He opted to send this one back. Most recently, “Alexa, please order Tide Pods” led to Tide Pods being delivered … accompanied by child safety equipment and drug detox book. “I had forgotten to change the user profile from my wife to myself, so she saw the order after I placed it,” the husband remarked, “and she asked if I was having a child she didn’t know about. Interestingly, she discovered she was pregnant three weeks later. Alexa knew before we did!”
Does the time you’re saving on your billing entries justify the expense of your surprise deliveries? We would like to hear your stories! Please submit to socialmedia@cobar.org. D


(This is an April Fools Article) 

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