Posted by: johnocunningham | December 4, 2014

Best Blogs of November: Actions Speak Louder Than Billables

This is my twenty-fourth post in a series of monthly features that I have dubbed “Best of My Blog Roll.” The concept is simple – at the end of a month I peruse my own blog roll (see that column on the right) for material created by other bloggers that I think is most worthy of sharing with others, and then I report on it here.

For the month of November 2014, I have chosen to highlight a post  by Stephen Fairley at The Rainmaker Blog entitled “One Big Law Firm Abandons the Billable Hour.”

I liked this post, not just because it trumpeted an important news item that drew little attention in the press, but because it focused on the impact one major law firm’s policy will have on clients.

The firm in the spotlight is Jackson Lewis, a nationwide 780-lawyer labor and employment firm, which recently announced that its associates would no longer be measured by billable hour production. The new method for assessing associate performance will reportedly be based on client service, responsiveness, efficiency and team play (as well as pro bono contributions).

Chairman Vincent Cino was quoted as saying that “the billable hour is directly opposed to the best interest of the client.”

This move might garner little praise from lawyers in other firms, who well might fear what it portends, but it is a clear statement to the firm’s clients that the firm has a whole new focus for associates – one that is aligned with client interests.

The move is also responsive to mounting client concerns in recent years that young associates are too often inefficient, poorly trained and not delivering value for what they are paid. In fact, a growing number of clients have refused to pay for first year associate work at all, stating that they will not be responsible for training someone from scratch.

Now, the onus for ramping up associate efficiency will fall squarely on the partners who must pay those associate salaries, and a true commitment to associate development will likely emerge from a new focus on “client satisfaction.”

There were two other blog posts I wanted to call attention to as well. One was done by Mandy Edwards at ME Marketing, entitled “Blending Social Media Marketing with Traditional Marketing This Holiday Season.” It has a nice overview of how to integrate social and traditional media to get better performance from each.

The other post I enjoyed was short and sweet, but illustrated the lesson I learned from great rainmakers that everyone you meet is a potential client, if not someone you can potentially serve in some way. That post by Craig Brown is on “finding clients” and appears on the LawVision INSIGHTS blog.

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