I’m a member of the Grand Traverse Bar Association for Grand Traverse, Antrim and Leelanau Counties for the State of Michigan. I spoke at a seminar last week to a handful of local lawyers about technology and innovation. I have to say that I was a little nervous as to whether anyone even cared about that issue locally. I haven’t thought about it in years. I don’t have a substantial presence locally. Most of our clients are from somewhere else.
But the turnout was solid. I told them that I couldn’t possibly delve deep enough into any one thing to make it worthwhile in an hour’s time. So instead, I told them that I would be inundating them with as much technology and innovation in the next 60 minutes as I possibly could. The title of the presentation was The Top Ten Tech Tips For Lawyers. I’ll be blogging in the next few days about what my top ten tech tips where. Even cooler, I’ll be telling you about each and every piece of software on my desktop computer and how it fits into my business process. I figure as long as I get to tell them what I’m running, I may as well share it with you as well.
But there is one thing that stands out most from my presentation. It was how true it struck when I said the words “as bad as hourly billing is for clients, it’s worse for lawyers.” The room was filled with silence. No one said anything. But I doubt anyone disagreed. Let me say it again. As bad as hourly billing is for clients, it’s worse for lawyers. To live your life as though each minute spent doing something else besides billing the client was a wasted moment is a waste of life. You know the feeling I’m talking about. Your wife calls. She’s telling you about some otherwise seemingly trivial part of her day (which is a huge part of her day) and you’re thinking about the fact that you’ve only got four and half hours in today and already four o’clock. You’re trying to be polite at best, but mostly you’re trying to get back to your hours. Imagine a life where each hour was measured exactly the same. It sounds like communism to me. It doesn’t matter how hard you work or the quality of your work, you get paid the same. If capitalism is all about incentives, then we cannot help but pose the most fundamental question of all. What is the incentive of the billable hour.
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