Byte of Prevention Blog

by Jay Reeves |

Solos Billing Less Than Two Hours a Day

billingSolo lawyers are billing less than two hours in an average eight-hour workday – and they’re collecting even less than that.

That’s according to a Clio Cloud Computing survey of 150,000 attorneys, as reported here.

Overall, lawyers are billing only 28 percent of their available work hours, which comes to approximately 2.24 hours per day, the survey found. For solos, the numbers are even lower – 22 percent and 1.6 hours, with only 1.4 hours being collected.

“Wow! Lawyers only collecting on 1.4 hours of their 8 hour workday,” tweeted one attendee at the Clio Cloud Conference in New Orleans, where the report was unveiled. “Law firms are dead if they don’t reinvent themselves.”

Conference speakers said the way to recover those six lost hours a day – and bill for them more efficiently – is through technology. Recommended products include client intake software, time billing systems and predictive analytics programs.

Not As Bad As It Appears?

At least one expert cautions against reading too much into the report.

“On its face, this [report] sounds horrifying,” writes Carolyn Elefant on her My Shingle blog. “But what does it really mean? How was the data collected and from who? Does it include only full time lawyers, or also lawyers working part-time or on an intermittent contract basis? And is it really such a bad number?”

Elefant suggests the numbers are meaningless unless placed in context, such as type of solo practice and geographic location. She points out that solos often under-report their billable hours. And she says low billables might not always be a bad thing – it might simply reflect a lifestyle choice.

“In addition to working part-time for family reasons, many solo lawyers also enjoy the flexibility of a lifestyle practices, where they earn as much or as little as they need to sustain their desired lifestyle. Some solos may work full throttle six or eight months of the year, putting in 20 hour billable weeks but take it easy the remainder, while others may work 3-day weeks and devote the remaining time to a hobby or another business. Including the billable hours of ‘lifestyle’ solos into the overall mix also skews the overall averages down as well.”

Some of these questions might be answered when Clio releases its full report later this year.

Do you practice solo? How many hours do you bill each day?

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About the Author

Jay Reeves

jay.reeves@ymail.com | 919-619-2441

Jay Reeves practiced law in North Carolina and South Carolina. Over the course of his 35-year career he was a solo practitioner, corporate lawyer, legal editor, Legal Aid staff attorney and insurance risk manager. Today he helps lawyers and firms put more mojo in their practice through marketing, work-life balance and reclaiming passion for what they do. He is available for consultations, retreats and presentations.

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