Watch carefully – perhaps eschew – law firms that impose billable hours requirements

The American Lawyer, Aug. 2006 at 115, released the results of a massive poll of mid-level associates at major US law firms. For 66 percent of the associates there is an official billable hour requirement. Now, human nature being what it is and ambitious associates being what they are, won’t those associates – not to mention partners who may face the same edicts – do everything they can to ring the billable hour bell? Maybe add an hour here, and stick in 0.5 there, and the call was perhaps 30 minutes instead of 20….

Another 15 percent of the associates reported laboring under informal requirements for billable hours. Formal versus informal probably leads to the same temptation to pad hours.

If your law department retains a firm that pushes its lawyers to meet requirements like these, why can’t you ask for total hours billed during the time period any lawyers who work on your matters?

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