Category Archives: Professionalism

Eliminate Billable Hours from Performance Evaluations

We missed this announcement from Jackson Lewis (a large national employment law firm) in November, 2014, stating that an associate’s billable hours will no longer be taken into account in his or her performance evaluations. We applaud this decision, and hope to see this factor removed from partner-level evaluations (read: profit participation determinations) as well.

Individuals in any organization ought to be evaluated on the basis of accomplishments, not time spent. Is this harder to do? Of course.

How should accomplishments be evaluated? Hint: ask your customers who receive the service and are in the best position to evaluate its worth.

We’ll answer. We promise.


Your R&D is not my capital investment … it’s yours.

So last weekend, on a quiet nondescript morning, coffee freshly poured I thought, “No finer time than right now to review some law firm invoices.”  Ok, I didn’t really think that, but since this past week was going to be highly unproductive (it didn’t disappoint) it was time to get the mundane out of the way.

I pulled the first one off the stack.  The General Matters invoice.  There was only one entry:

“Review recent court decisions concerning intellectual property rights.  0.6 hrs.”

The expense statement was even better.

“LEXIS/NEXIS case searches for recent court decisions concerning intellectual property rights . . . . . $467.00”

Now all this would be perfectly acceptable if we had actually engaged the firm to do some research.  But we hadn’t.  Hmmm… this was probably just another time entry foul-up (expense charge too — same day, probably automated).  No big deal.  We’ll just call and have it fixed. Continue reading

More bad time entries

This is a popular one, especially among legal assistants:

“Attention to file. 1.0 hr”

You’re kidding, right? Is anybody reading these bills before they’re sent? As we’ve asked before, if you were the timekeeper who made this entry, would you pay this bill? (“Work on case” is a variation on this theme.)

Also, nothing looks more like padded time than round numbers. We’re not saying anyone should change their actual time entries, but pages full of “1.0 hr, 2.0 hrs, 3.0 hrs” etc. just looks suspicious, and sends us a message about the timekeeper’s credibility and the billing attorney’s management skills.

Timekeepers, please describe what work you did (this is why the entries are called time descriptions). Billing attorneys, please review the bills before you send them.