Having in-house counsel track time (NYC’s law department)

In-house lawyers who do not track their time detest, abhor and revile the thought of doing so. “If I wanted to record 10ths of an hour, I’d have stayed at a law firm!!”

I smiled, therefore, when I read that the Corporation Counsel of NYC’s accomplishments included “implementing, over significant internal opposition, a requirement that attorneys keep time records, a reform intended to give [law] department managers a better idea of the resources devoted to the needs of its ‘clients’ – city government agencies.” (emphasis added) (NY Law J. Aug. 15, 2005)

With 650 lawyers in that department, the need for data on how lawyers are spending their time becomes imperative. For small law departments, those under five lawyers, I doubt the efficiency of tracking time. For intermediate size departments, tracking time in hour increments, or only for a quarter a year, or only on certain kinds of matters, gives most of the insights with less of the angst. For large departments, as many as 40 percent track attorney time and I recommend it

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