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ADVOS Pro / Billing & Business Models  / Burnout to Balance: It CAN be done.

Burnout to Balance: It CAN be done.

I remember the first time I learned that lawyers bill in six-minute increments for things like reading and responding to email, faxing a document (the millennial in me is appalled!), and leaving a voicemail. I’d never before thought about how long it takes me to do any of these things. I imagine there are times reading and responding to email can take twenty minutes but leaving a voicemail generally takes less than three minutes, right? The idea of having to track each time I do any of these things and for whom…no, thank you.

Then I learned that lawyers have billable hour targets – as in 2,000 hours billed to clients per year (average billable hour targets range from 1,700-2,300 per year as stated in The American Lawyer and The Rosen Institute).

Then I did the math.

  • 2,000 hours:
  • with 245 work days per year (assuming two weeks of vacation and five national holidays each year)
  • working 10 hour days – 2 hours per day for basic human needs (eat and use the restroom) = 8 billable hours per day
  • 8 billable hours x 245 work days = 1,960 hours / year

We’re already short of target using this basic calculation without incorporating firm meetings or business development. We could adjust by cutting out a week of vacation or bill over 40 hours per week to make up the difference elsewhere – if all of the stars align week after week after week for the entire year. If everything else goes exactly right (i.e., there is enough client work to do, zero accidents or illness, no personal appointments)…

I think we all know that’s not how life works.

When do lawyers get to live? When do they connect with their people (family, friends, colleagues)? When are they allowed to do more than work day after day after day, burning the candle at both ends?

As I meet more lawyers and hear their stories, I hear a theme of burnout and a desire for change that allows for breathing room and some control over how they spend their days / time, all without giving up their lifestyle.

And then I think about the two lawyers I work with every day who don’t bill by the hour and have figured out a way to practice that allows them to be richly rewarded – not only in profits, but also in the clients they work with, the people on their team, and the community around them – and I want everyone to know: IT CAN BE DONE.

You can have a highly fulfilling legal career, clients that you adore working with, a profitable law firm, AND take multiple vacations each year, be present at your loved one’s important events, eat dinner with your family each night, and do things that you enjoy just because.

It. Can. Be. Done.

If you’re tired of losing the hourly-billing game, let’s talk.

To your #promance,