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Creating, communicating and managing billing expectations of lawyers

By Julious P. Smith Jr, Chair Emeritus, Williams Mullen 

23 October 2014

The catchphrase ‘new normal’ often describes life in the post-recession legal market. Firms are dealing with reduced rates, pressure for alternative fee arrangements and new client attitudes towards legal services in general and law firm staffing in particular. Some law firms have experienced another by-product of the new normal: slower demand has created less productivity. In many cases, lawyers who had routinely worked more than 2,000 billable hours have become 1,500 to 1,600 hour regulars.

Even though the economy has improved, many lawyers’ productivity remains at below pre-recession levels. Lawyers have responded to reduced workloads in two fashions: one knowingly, the other perhaps unknowingly.

As work has picked up, lawyers, in many cases unknowingly, have adopted a new definition of ‘busy’. The demands on their time has lagged that of pre...

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