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Lawyers: Work Slower to Increase Billings

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    Bad Staff Writer


Welcome, esteemed legal practitioners! If you've stumbled across this piece in your precious, billable time, fear not—reading this will indeed be the most profitable decision of your day. Today, we explore a counterintuitive yet potentially wallet-fattening strategy: working slower to boost your billable hours. Let's dig into the lucrative world of leisurely lawyering.

Embrace the Pace

First off, let's address the 800-pound gorilla in the courtroom: speed is overrated. In a profession where precision trumps pace, why rush? After all, every extra minute spent reviewing a document, every additional hour pondering the implications of a single comma, not only increases your billings but also ensures that you're offering the most thorough, well-considered legal advice possible.

Remember, it's not dawdling—it's dedication. Clients don't just pay for results; they pay for the comfort of knowing that no stone was left unturned in their defense or deal.

Maximize Team Effort

But why stop with your own hours? As much as we love billing, there’s a limit to how many hours one can plausibly claim to work in a day—even for the most dedicated among us. Enter your team of associates and paralegals, the unsung heroes who can meticulously extend the life of any legal task.

Imagine this: a contract needs reviewing. Instead of a quick once-over, why not have it undergo a thorough examination by each level of your team hierarchy? Have an associate take the first crack at it, followed by a more senior associate, and then a review by a paralegal for good measure. Each pair of eyes adds layers of billing and, of course, ensures an unmatched depth of scrutiny.

Quality, Not Quantity

It’s crucial to frame this approach correctly with clients. Emphasize that this meticulous attention to detail ensures unparalleled quality and safeguards. You’re not merely padding the bill; you’re armor-plating their case or contract against potential oversights. In the rarefied air of legal excellence, thoroughness is a virtue that clients are all too happy to pay for, especially when it’s their assets on the line.

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

Incorporate deliberate pauses and reflection periods into your work. After drafting a section of a brief, take a thoughtful walk, perhaps around the courthouse square. Ponder the implications of your arguments, consider alternative phrasings, and then revise accordingly. Each thoughtful pause not only enriches your legal document but also, quite conveniently, ticks the billable clock just a bit further.

Use Old Tools

Microsoft Word is the 40-year old software at the heart of legal work. It can create any document and offers infinite opportunities to format and customize. Because you have to type everything explicitly, you'll be taking the time to consider your words quickly. If you do find a contract or clause you could copy and paste, Word will often drop something in with different formatting and styling so you're forced to carefully review and correct your shortcuts.

Because it has multiple numbering systems and complex mechanisms for maintaining dynamic cross-references via bookmarks you know nothing will happen too quickly. Take your time at each stage of review to right-click on every cross reference and 'Update Field' so you know it points to the right section; confirm it manually by scrolling there.

Email Word Documents

Stay in control of your work and your billable hours by frequently emailing incremental changes to your client. It's best to save a Word document with a carefully chosen title, like Purchase and Sale Agreement_Rev 12.docx. Then be sure to create a redline from this version to the previous and save it as a PDF, so your client can easily track changes, and so you can bill more document management.

Frequent updates shows you're working hard and incorporating client feedback. And each iteration is another loop of tedious file saving, attaching, email writing, and then manually incorporating emailed feedback. (Or running a Compare Versions exercise, if your client takes their own time to save the Word document, add comments, and email back their revision. Take your time to be careful to merge just the right changes back into your master document!)

Avoid New Tools

New tools, like the AllDrafts contract editor, can speed the creation of documents through improved editing, dynamic styling, smart numbering and cross references, easy-to-use templating, AI assisted drafting and review, and automated error and typo scanning.

Avoid these tools; not only do they reduce your billable hours, any tool, no matter how easy to use, takes non-billable time to learn.

The Art of Follow-Ups

Never underestimate the power of the follow-up. A simple email asking if the client has any questions or additional concerns not only shows thorough client care but also opens up avenues for further billable communications. Each reply, each clarification, adds a golden thread to the tapestry of your billable hours.

In Conclusion

By adopting a slower, more deliberate pace, not only do you enrich your client service and legal outcomes, but your billings might just reach heights as grand as your contributions to the legal field. Remember, in the art of law, time is not just money—it's an investment in perfection.

Clients may be taken aback by your bill, but how much more disturbed would they be to see a typo or some error of judgment or grammar that signaled less than complete attention to detail?

Now, go forth and bill with leisure, dear colleagues. Your clients, and your accountant, will thank you.