David Hobbie posted a thoughtful comment on my blawg. Rather than reply there, which few readers will, I reproduce it below.
“Rees, as a former litigation associate who was sometimes belatedly staffed on very big cases with little awareness of the main strategy and facts of a matter, I agree with you in general on the inefficiency of “drive-by billers.”
In my current role, however, as a knowledge management attorney (in some respects like a UK PSL) I have frequently encountered people billing small amounts of time where that work was more efficiently done by those people. In particular, I’ve seen library research, trial practice, electronics pleadings, and knowledge management workers bill on a matter where that has helped the paralegals and attorneys avoid a significant learning curve (i.e., extra time) in carrying out those specialized tasks. While this is in part a function of the increasing complexity of our IT, court filing, knowledge management, and library systems, it is a fact of life that sometimes those people can do things faster and cheaper than the “line” attorneys, because they are doing those tasks all the time.”
David, thanks for the comment, and I concur that time dollops save dollars when they come from those who specialize in the task.