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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Billable hours are sooo 2007

It's not often that law firms are mentioned in the Fashion & Style pages of the New York Times. The practice of law is, after all, deeply rooted in tradition.

But some offices are easing away from billable hour requirements to lure new talent and place a renewed emphasis on work-life balance.

During a recent interview, attorney Trudy Halla with Briggs and Morgan told me that younger people are actively searching for — demanding even — a job that offers more than a fat paycheck for toiling 60 to 70 hours a week.

"This is not just an issue for women, it's a generational issue," Halla said.

Such is the reasoning behind Deborah Epstein Henry's FACTS program.

Henry is the founder of Flex-Time Lawyers, a consulting firm that promotes work-life balance for law firms. In the Times article, she outlines some new ways for law offices to budget employee time:

Fixed — lower profile work with a predictable schedule
Annualized — intense bursts of work followed by lulls
Core — working in blocks of time to coordinate family activities
Targeted — a customized schedule of working hours
Shared — sharing the workload with others

So is this the beginning of the end for billable hours? I think it's only a matter of time. But if you're trying to attract top talent, remember that flexibility is fashionable.

Oh, and get rid of that man-bag.


Jesse G said...

The end of the billable hour – three cheers! Wondering if you’ve checked out the blog by the creators of ROWE (Results-Only Work Environment), Cali Ressler and Jody Thompson – www.caliandjody.com/blog. They had a great riff on the billable hour a while back.

Anonymous said...

I'm disappointed in Minnesota Lawyer's recent lack of coverage of the ongoing story of attempts to organize a union at the AG's office and AG Swanson's ham-handed efforts to undermine that effort (the Keystone Cops would have done a better job a union-busting). Minnesota Lawyer's blog help make the story public earlier and exposed the questionable decision to keep Mike Hatch on board. Now Minn Lawyer appears to have forgotten to do any follow up coverage. It was big deal when there was unrest in the US Attorney's Office but somehow the departure of 1/3 of the line attorneys at the AG's office in the past year and ongoing unionization efforts doesn't make for a story of public interest? C'mon. Where's the journalism.