To start with, let’s admit that 3,000 billable hours a year is an attainable target for a young and energetic lawyer. It can be done, honestly, though it would leave much to be desired regarding the human state of existence. However, 3000 billable hours as a law-firm wide quota is somewhat unrealistic, as it is not attainable by average methods and by average people. Last year in December 2011, a lawyer sued his law firm based in California. The matter was covered in the ABA Journal, and the lawyer accused the law firm of diluting its billing, and/or forcing associates and employees to commit billing fraud with such a high quota. In this case, Mr. Unitans sparked off a storm of reactions across the country holding that 3,000 billable hours was attainable but abominable unless ‘creative billing’ was involved. This article is not about ‘creative billing,’ but about whether billing 3,000 hours a year is possible, and what it takes to get there.
The mathematics of 3000 billable hours – why it seems impossible
According to the news covering the case of Richard Unitan published by ABA Journal; “A 3,000-hour billable requirement would require working about eight hours a day, every day of the year
.” This statement is incorrect.
Actually, to bill 3000 hours would mean “billing” eight hours a day, every day of the year. However, having eight billable hours a day usually means you need to work about 12-14 hours a day, every day of the year. So that sentence should have read, “A 3,000-hour billable requirement would require working about 12-14 hours a day, every day of the year.”
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