Friday, August 31, 2012

LexisNexis survey shows paperwork at small firms eats up valuable billable hours

One of the take-aways is that lawyers working in smaller firms must learn to delegate administrative tasks in order to maintain billing efficiency. Not so surprisingly, according to the Lexis survey solos and lawyers at micro-firms have the most difficulty maintaining billing efficiency due to administrative tasks.  As reported by the Wall Street Journal Law blog:

Earlier this summer, Law Blog looked at the efficiency gap among lawyers, i.e. the yawning gulf between attorneys who bill clients for nearly all the hours they work (hello Delaware!) and those who spend as much as 60% of their time on non-billable tasks.

So what exactly do lawyers do when they’re not billing clients?

Paperwork, mostly.

That’s according to a follow-up poll conducted by legal technology company LexisNexis. The survey asked about 1,000 attorneys, most of them at firms with between one to twenty lawyers, which tasks gobbled up time that could have been used to bill clients.

The biggest takeaway: everybody needs some help around the office, be it a secretary, a bookkeeper, or just some law office software to help keep things organized. Lawyers at big and small firms alike reported that administrative tasks—billing, filing, document management, accounting—took up the most of their non-billable time.

“Attorneys. . . are really bad at delegating,” said Loretta Ruppert, senior director of community management for LexisNexis Legal and Professional. “These are things that staff members should be doing.”

Solo practitioners and two-lawyer firms were the least efficient in that respect, according to the survey. And 10% of respondents said they couldn’t accurately account for all their time as a result of “chaotic schedules” and “a variety of personal distractions” (which sadly, were not enumerated in the poll results).

Schmoozing clients and other networking activities ranked low on the list of billing distractions. Nearly 70% of lawyers surveyed said client development had “relatively little impact on their ability to focus on billable client work.”

But a number did report that they used non-billable time to hit the books, researching case law or otherwise getting up to speed on different practice areas.

Continue reading here.


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