Just as associates who have high targets for billable hours ought to concern general counsel, so too should similar pressures on paralegals (See my post of Nov. 2, 2006 about percentages of firms that set 2,000 associate hours as the goal; Oct. 20, 2005 about whether law departments should ask for total hours billed by associates.). Even if paralegal time is billed at only $100 an hour and up, bill inflation is a risk.
Data from the 2005 Utilization Survey by the International Paralegal Managers Association (IPMA) came from 59 US law firms, and gives some understanding of this situation.
At the 1500 to 1599 hour level, 21 firms set that as the billable requirement. At 1600-1799, 34 percent of the firms set their requirement. Only a single firm each jacked up the requirements to 1800-2000 or more than 2,000 hours. From this information, there is ample cause for concern that paralegals bill with a heavy pen as they face the daunting prospect of recording so many hours to clients’ accounts.