In 2006 a major bank paid through its e-billing system more than 800 firms and an average of 17 timekeepers per firm. “Timekeepers” means anyone – lawyers, paralegals, litigation support staff, researchers – who bills time. Of its law firms, however, 40 percent billed one or two timekeepers and 70 percent billed 10 or less. Among the 220 law firms paid the most, the bank averaged 49 timekeepers per firm. Those firms had an astonishing number of people who billed on the bank’s matters (unless the median figure was much lower).
This data powerfully makes the point that many law firms stray far from the core-team approach (See my post of Dec. 8, 2006 about core teams in law firms.). They don’t have, or perhaps we just can’t tell from the data, a handful of lawyers who become most familiar with the work and needs of a particular client (See my post of Nov. 15 2005 on 17 timekeepers per law firm in claims work.). Instead, everyone and their cousins bill time to the bank’s matters.