Editor’s Note: In the ABA Journal’s Law News Now blog, there was a summary of Casey Flaherty’s audit program.
I’ve administered the audit 10 times to nine firms (one firm took it twice). Both the median and mean (average) pace rounded to 5 hours.
As far as I am concerned, all the firms failed—some more spectacularly than others. So, somewhat arbitrarily, I selected 1 hour as passing. I fully admit that these metrics offer a false precision beyond even the small sample size.
My collaboration with Suffolk should, however, provide a more robust, numerical foundation to support these claims. With the audit, I am not attempting to offer “the answer” to every challenge facing the legal profession.
Clients expend such substantial sums on legal work that incremental improvements at the margin save real money.
I would prefer to avoid having the issue subsumed into the long-standing, often vitriolic debate over AFAs.
That is, I’m hoping that the profession needs little more than a nudge. Many law firms already have solid training programs that are under-attended due to the very real countervailing pressures on lawyers’ time.Yet, in 2013, we are still learning Why the Billable Hour Endures and getting thought-provoking pieces In Defense of the Billable Hour.Indeed, a recent survey showed that “decreasing portion of overall U. work"AFAs accounted for a decreasing portion of overall U. work.” (emphasis added) This is not to dismiss AFA’s or the vital discussion surrounding them.I’ve written extensively on my audit (e.g., here, here, here, and here).I’ve also given several presentations about the audit, including a Legal Tech West keynote (viewable here).The firms have not fared well, and I have, among other things, cut their billing rates unless and until they pass a subsequent audit.