Observant little ...

I don't understand the answer, but I may have some ideas on the question...




work/life balance


Since this is an issue that interests me, I'm updating my other posts about AAR work/life balance with this one from a recent interview:-

Q: You have been quoted as saying you expect your lawyers to be on-call to clients at all times. For the record, what are your expectations of partners and lawyers in terms of work hours, weekends and their availability to clients?

A: We certainly expect our partners and lawyers to look after their clients. We also expect them to look after themselves. And we don’t see those as inconsistent expectations. We are very good at ensuring an appropriate blend of life inside and outside of work for our people. We offer flexible work practices and so on to enable people to work from home. We’ve got good technology. We are also very keen on offering outstanding service to our clients. We think outstanding, clever and committed lawyers can achieve both outcomes. As a formal matter, we tend to think 1,300 or 1,400 hours per year is fair, but we don’t at this stage and haven’t ever driven our lawyers by budget and I think we may be one of the last large firms not to do that. But the 1,300 or 1,400 hours that we internally plan on getting is a lot less than others. It puts us in the middle range and is certainly a lot less that the London firms and the Wall Street firms and their staff. If it comes down to how you balance what you plan to do for the weekend with what the clients are planning for you, well, the answer is that you have to find a way. Finding that may be to get someone else involved and it might mean that sometimes you have to miss your cricket game.


Hmmm... 1300 to 1400 billable hours per day. Assuming that you work 48 weeks in the year (taking out holidays, sick leave and public holidays), 5 days a week, that would be 240 billable days, so they are looking at around 5 1/2 to 6 hours of billable work a day. That's still quite a lot really - sure, not as bad at London or New York, but it still makes for a long day when you consider that maybe half your time at work is billable.

I still think that the billable hours concept makes for unhappy lawyers and unhappy clients, since lawyers start to view success by the amount of time they spend in the office, and clients get bigger bills because the lawyer bills them for every 6 minutes spent, even if it isn't productive.

And as for "how you balance what you plan to do for the weekend with what the clients are planning for you, well, the answer is that you have to find a way" - yes, and my response would be that the clients shouldn't be planning anything for me on a weekend! Obviously there is the exception of bailing your client out of jail or seeking an urgent injunction, but otherwise, why can't it wait until Monday?

I guess that's just another reason why I like working for government. I'm quite happy to sacrifice salary for the right to have my weekends to myself, and except for the odd Sunday night flight for a Monday morning court appearance, working for government allows me to do that. Even if I am still in the office at 6:30pm tonight... ;o)

Listening to: Matthew Sweet - Time Capsule

8 Comments:

Blogger sarni said...

I believe a lot of large law firms (in Australia) have billable targets which work out to be 6 or 6.5 hours a day - so I suppose that compared to that, 5.5 hours a day sounds good.

7:42 pm  
Blogger Ka said...

If I had to bill clients for my time at work, I'd be doomed. Or they'd be doomed, really. I'm a chronic time waster when there aren't looming deadlines. That's why they pay me the big bucks (ha ha ha ha ha ha!)

1:29 am  
Anonymous verbs said...

I worked in one accounting firm which required 100% productivity (7.5 hours a day). Admittedly charge-out rates were a little lower than the norm meaning there was room to move within that 100% productivity, but even coffee breaks were at a scheduled time (10.15am and 3.15pm).

Trying to allocate the shortfall to the timesheet at the end of the day was always a headache.

Would you believe it's been five years now and only last week I dreamt I was weeks and weeks behind on my timesheets and was stressing about it!?

10:43 am  
Blogger Bliss said...

Holy crap! I'm moving to Australia! We're on the low end for firms, and we have a minimum of 1800 per year, with an expectation for partnership track of 2000/yr.

2:57 pm  
Blogger jazmin1raphael said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1:34 pm  
Blogger Aurelius said...

Thankyou jazmin1raphael,
I came here to read OLS' blog, but subconsciously, I am sure I wanted to know about EGTY!
You made my day.

1:11 pm  
Blogger OLS said...

sarni - I have found that it isn't so much the billable hours as how much time you have to spend getting the billable hours which is important. Some firms have a high billable hours rate, but they also have a high chargeable work rate, so it's quite easy to get the hours. Others have low billable hours, but you're expected not to bill a lot of the time you spend.

Ka - I find that I fluff around a lot when I'm not under pressure, but I work very effectively when I am. Which is probably why I prefer jobs where I have set deadlines.

verbs - I tend to account for most of my day in my current job in terms of working to a particular file, but I find that a lot of the work I do on a file would not be billable. And I still have dreams about sitting in an exam and not knowing anything about the subject - although I did my last exam over 5 years ago. I guess those sorts of stresses stay with us forever! ;o)

bliss - *lol* And this is why I can't see myself ever working in the US of A...

Aurelius - I've deleted that comment now. It was my first comment spam though. For that at least, I'm impressed. ;o)

- OLS

12:15 pm  
Blogger sarni said...

OLS I think you're right about chargeable work rate - unfortunately it's not one of those things you can ask about in a job interview, is it?

I can't say that I am looking forward to having to account for every minute of my time, especially since I like to do three different things at once. If I stop in the middle of working on one matter to briefly update someone else on another matter, and then print out and pick up an email from a third matter, how do I charge the time? Enquiring minds want to know.

1:21 am  

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