Survey finds lawyers’ paperwork undermines billing efficiency0
Several surveys have been released over the course of the summer detailing exactly how legal offices bill clients and how they use the time that is being billed. The legal technology company LexisNexis released a follow-up poll that 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 number one response: paperwork. Personal injury lawyer Rockville said everybody in an legal office has to keep things organized, and when dealing with vaiou 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 told the Wall Street Journal. “These are things that staff members should be doing.”
Some key findings in the poll:
- Forty percent of immigration lawyers said they spend four or more hours a day on non-billable activities. Personal injury attorneys came in a close second, with 39% reporting the same.
- Insurance lawyers “get the gold star for billing effectiveness,” with 76% reporting that they spend two or fewer hours a day on non-billable activities.
- Labor and employment attorneys and litigators also had a better track record than their colleagues in immigration or personal injury law; 54% and 51%, respectively, said they spend two or fewer hours on such tasks.
According to the survey, solo practitioners and two-lawyer firms were the least efficient in that respect and one in 10 respondents said they couldn’t accurately account for all their time as a result of “chaotic schedules” and “a variety of personal distractions” – which were not included in the survey.
Premises liability lawyer Rockville said they spent much of their time on client relations and other networking activities that ranked low on the list of billing distractions. Nearly 70 percent 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.