Thin Skinned Solos
The 'Real World' of Independent Practioners

Billable Hour Obsession Born Of Firm Manager Laziness?

Here is an interesting article about the the difficulties of our profession.   It is written by Hillary Mantis, republished by the with permission of The Princeton Review.  It cites some old data from interviews of new lawyers back in the early 1990s.  The findings were as follows:

The 3,000-plus "young lawyers" (defined as under age 36 or less than three years in practice) interviewed cited three major problems causing job dissatisfaction:

  1. Lack of time for self and family, due to billable hours requirement
  2. Failure to communicate and isolation within the firm
  3. Lack of training or mentoring within the firm

If these were the findings back in the early 1990s, I can only imagine what the results would be in 2005.   

I would suggest that unhappiness is a function of lack of purpose.  People who go to work with vision and purpose are rarely unhappy because of work. Going to work with the primary purpose of billing 10 hours to a paying client before you go home is hardly fulfilling. 

What I never understood is why firms didn't motivate their associates with a purpose of delivering quality and value.   A  lawyer motivated to deliver results would work just as hard, and likely even harder.  And providing a deeper purpose to associates would further instill pride, self-worth and other job satisfaction metrics.

I sometimes wonder if the near obsessive focus on the billable hour by firm managers was born of a mixture  of mathematical simplicity and laziness.  Why try to quantify value and quality if you can get away with simply adding hours a the end of each day? I also conclude that that billable hour obsession by firm managers has, over the long term, worked against their own business interests.

One of the benefits of this blog is that I renew my purpose each time I post.  If I feel a lack of focus coming on, I can always go back and re-read what I have written.


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