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Abandoning Billable Hours May Help Slow the Treadmill

January 25, 2008

If you read the Winter edition of The Philadelphia Lawyer, you might have taken note that average starting salaries for legal professionals, and particularly associates at the largest law firms, are projected to rise 4.2% on average. So it did not surprise me when I read an article that my Dad sent me, noting that at large firms with more than 501 lawyers, associate starting salaries increased to $160,000. And just today, my Dad sent me another article, Who’s Cuddly Now? Law Firms.  According to this article, many firms are starting to consider abandoning billable hours to slow the treadmill.  And it’s about time, too!  We’ve all seen statistics and heard stories about how lawyers are overworked, depressed and leaving. Thank goodness for those law firms (mine included) that have done away with billable hours to encourage work-life balance. As someone stated in the above-mentioned New York Times article, “Just because something always has been doesn’t mean that it always must be.” It’s time for our profession to rethink the way it does business and to catch up with other professions!

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Wolf permalink
    February 14, 2008 7:43 pm

    I like abillbale hours – it allows those who work harder (usually just to keep me out of trouple) to reap the rewards come quarterly and Christmas bonuses. Otherwise, what is the incentive once you make Partner?

  2. February 14, 2008 10:26 pm

    I understand what you’re saying, but I think a lot of people would agree that it may not be a bad idea to abandon billable hours. I consider myself a very diligent and efficient worker; yet, I still am not a fan of billable hours because to me, it’s very important to have a life outside of work and to do the things I enjoy doing (including Phila Bar Association stuff). I realize that my reply to you is on a tangent, but your response may explain why a lot fewer women reach the top of big law firms and why a lot of women (particularly those with families) don’t stick around to climb up the professional ladder. There’s a great blog and discussion about women and billable hours, THE NEW YORK TIMES ASKS WHY SO FEW WOMEN REACH THE TOP OF BIG LAW FIRMS, where the author explains why “billable hours suck royally.”

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