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The long tail of those who bill short time periods on matters

The concept of Pareto’s Law shows up everywhere (See my post of June 27, 2007 on the law and an illustration.). If you look at the bills of the law firm you use the most over a six-month period, and sort the time billed on your matters by associates, paralegals, and partners, you will see it manifested. A few of those timekeepers will account for the largest portion of your bills, but there will be a long tail of occasional billers and those who only put in tiny dribs of time (See my post of Dec. 8, 2006 about core teams in law firms.).

It is the long-tail billers that should be the targets of your saving efforts. Sporadic, quick, drive-by billing cannot be efficient (See my post Nov. 6, 2007 on billing concentration.).

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One response to “The long tail of those who bill short time periods on matters”

  1. David Hobbie says:

    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.