The ratio of partner time to other timekeepers’ time on invoices – no more than 30 percent?

Commenting on my recent article in Legal Times on how to analyze invoices Tom Collins reviews some of the things a savvy client could interpret from a law firm’s bills. One of them was “More than 30 percent partner time means I’m paying partner rates for associate and paralegal level work.”

With all due respect, that is a very broad rule-of-thumb. The ratio of partner time to associate and paralegal time can quite properly range from 100 percent to none. Eye-dropper advice on a sophisticated tax shelter under time pressure might well deserve only senior partner time; by contrast, a review of the 25th franchise agreement might be work that is mostly paralegal and a bit of review time by a fifth-year associate. The 30 percent guide holds best with large-scale, leverageable work at a major firm.

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