I Don’t Have Time to Be Ethical: Addressing the Effects of Billable Hour Pressure
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This article discusses the unintended consequences of the billable hour derby and suggests changes to address the deleterious effects of increasing billable hour requirements. A brief introduction identifies law firms’ recent tendency to increase the billable hour requirements to fund the heightened salaries of associates. This article analyzes the results from an empirical study focused on the effects of billable hour expectations and firm cultures. Part I generally reviews the study findings. Part II discusses the work and report of the ABA Commission, while Part III indentifies those issues and approaches that the ABA and firm managers should explore. Recognizing the unlikelihood that hourly billing can be completely eliminated, the conclusion calls on bar and firm leaders to reexamine compensation and partnership models that result in attorneys sacrificing their personal lives in order to achieve professional success.
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