The truth about the billable hour..


Thanks to the folks at RollOnFriday they have pointed out that apparently one of the world’s premier Law Schools, Yale, is assisting their graduates to advance their careers in law firms (if there are still any such careers left in the US) by explaining the detailed workings of the law firm business model. Thankfully for students, the academics at Yale have at last uncovered the secret formulae as to how modern firms operate and then explain it in such a way that even professors, politicians and accountants will understand. Careers Development Office – The truth about the billable hour

Assuming this paper does actually eminate from Yale it seems designed to ensure graduates are not only prepared for the immediate complexities of private practice but are imminently well suited to be the innovative leaders and change agents for the legal profession in the future.

And the secret uncovered by Yale academics? Wait for it: “……… the more hours you bill, the more revenue for the firm. As a result, the incentive is to keep you working and billing your time.”

Wow. No wonder the US legal profession is miles ahead of the rest of the world- or in such a bad shape depending upon your perspective. I bet many of you wish you were taught this in Law School before you started practising- you might have transferred to Med School where at least they may have taught you the more patients you cure or keep alive the better your reputation will be. Yale certainly seems to be at the cutting edge of future trends and well worth the sale of a few condos for the tuition fees.

The paper also has a handy formula for extracting enough billable hours out of every week so that the new Associate will be able to meet the average US employer’s expected billable hours – using an 1800 annual hour target as a guide (although that could be light on for some law firms in US who require 2000+ hours… such firms would turn their noses up at the Australasian law firm “holiday camp” targets of between 1200-1500 hours per annum!).

But wait, there’s so much more… they even throw in an Overtime Job Target formula as well.

And finally the 6 steak knives for free – they give you a link to a work/life balance calculator to help you further understand the impact a firm’s billable hours will have on your lifestyle.

Wonder if the law school also distributes copies of papers that are not so complimentary about the billable hour and timesheets like this recent post by Dan Morris co founder of The Verasage Institute which suggests timesheets and cheating may not be too far removed from each other?