In an article published in the Globe and Mail earlier this month, Allison Speigel, a commercial litigator with Speigel Nichols Fox LLP, argues convincingly that the billable hour may be at the root of the disaffection of so many recent law graduates with firm-related work.
Among Speigel’s arguments against the profession’s most cherished and wide-spread billing system are ones we have all heard (or should have heard) before:
1) The system rewards time spent over value, creativity and other client-beneficial approaches;
2) It pressures lawyers – especially those newest to the firm – to work as many hours as they can, at the expense of family and life balance; and
3) It denigrates the value of non-billable hours, including those spent on professional development and pro bono work.
Among her several other excellent points, Speigel also argues that placing this kind of pressure on new lawyers means that they do not develop the skills they will ultimately need to become desirable candidates for partnership.
Speigel concludes her article, which I highly recommend you read, with the following statement: “Law firms should be spending more time figuring out how to keep their most valuable assets happy.”
No one can argue with that.
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