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Trainees' time is precious and must be well spent

Young lawyers should not be afraid to discuss targets for billable ours, says Paula McMullan

2 June 2014

A partner recently asked why a trainee’s utilisation rate was so low. Having registered under 10 per cent of his working hours as billable, the partner was concerned the trainee was not putting in enough effort.

You may have noticed a number of potential assumptions in this scenario: that the trainee was at fault, that trainees should be judged on billable hours and that the trainee was not using his time valuably.

Discussing the situation with the trainee and his supervisor, I found that he was, in fact, extremely busy on non-chargeable work, which was nonetheless of great value to the business. He had been preparing internal memos of advice on new legislation and regulation that would significantly impact the firm’s practice and its clients. However, the intrinsic value of this work was not being captured or measured....

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