Ride the Lightning

Cybersecurity and Future of Law Practice Blog
by Sharon D. Nelson Esq., President of Sensei Enterprises, Inc.

Bill Ten Hours a Day as a Lawyer: Will the Firm Make You a Partner?

May 25, 2022

Yes, I am straying from my normal topics. But, as some readers will know, I also lecture on the Future of Law Practice and Lawyer Wellness.

Hat tip to Steve Embry for his thoughtful May 21 blog post, in which he reports on a May internal memo from Hogans Lovells’ CEO that making partner there means “being all in.” And that typically means billing in the range of 2400 hours a year. The memo noted that many partners exceed those hours.

While Hogans seems to recognize that the goal could be met by some combination with billable hours and “further contributions.”  However, the firm is clear that a “significant portion” of hour would be billable client work.

It would take, on average, 10 hours a day to meet the billable goal factoring in vacation time.

We all know that many firms have billable hour targets, but this is the first time I’ve seen a firm, as Steve says, publicly throwing down an hours gauntlet to its associates. Women, who still perform much of the child and elder care, are likely to be particularly impacted. That bothers me a lot.

Missing from Hogans’ memo is any emphasis on getting a good result for clients, using technology and better workflows advantageous to the client. When what counts is billable hours, those things may have little to no appeal. Presumably, though not explicitly stated, if a lawyer proves to be a “rainmaker”, that might have a significant impact on that lawyer’s “further contribution.”

It is, or should be, abundantly clear that working an average of 10 hours a day non-stop isn’t good for anyone’s well-being. Hogans, like many other large firms, talks about work-life balance. But they don’t seem to enable it in practice.

Thanks, Steve, for a very insightful post.

Sharon D. Nelson, Esq., PresidentSensei Enterprises, Inc.
3975 University Drive, Suite 225Fairfax, VA 22030
Email:   Phone: 703-359-0700
Digital Forensics/Cybersecurity/Information Technology