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High Billable Hour Quotas = High Probability of Bill Padding

July 6, 2012

A recent article I came across, optimistically titled “Billable-hours requirements mean long days, juggling commitments for young lawyers”, outlines the problems of having a real life and trying to meet the high billable hour quotas of the modern law firm.

“When billable time became the standard in the 1950’s, the American Bar Association suggested 1,300 yearly billable hours — six per weekday, plus a half day Saturdays — was a reasonable goal for full-time employees.”

Even at a 1300 hour minimum requirement, an attorney had to work 6 days a week to hit their quota.  Oh, for a return to the good old days….

Today, most firms require at least 2000 yearly billable hours — which equates to a little over 9 billable hours per weekday, plus an occasional half day on Saturday. To reach this, the article notes:

“A lawyer may need to put in 10 hours in order to log eight genuinely billable hours.”

Of course, that isn’t including your commute each way and the time it takes to get into that fancy pinstripe suit each morning.  So to genuinely bill 9 hours a day, one would have to get up at 6:00 a.m. every day, get to work by 8:00 a.m., spend the next 10 hours working diligently on a full workload of pressing legal matters (this doesn’t include an hour for lunch), leave work at 7:00 p.m., finally arriving home at 8:00 p.m., presumably seeing your family for the first time.  That is 14 actual real hours to reach your minimum 9 billable hours requirement per day.

Repeat this simple little routine each day for the rest of the year and you meet the minimum billable hour requirement of your firm.

You show me a person who believes this is realistically possible, and I will sell that person beachfront property in Arizona.

Check out a few of these links to see what really is going on to hit those quotas:

How a 10-Minute Hearing Can Cost You $3,265.17

New Math? How 10 = 20

(Some) Top Tricks to Reach Your Daily Quota as an Overworked Attorney)

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