law-firm-cloud Article Summary:

Large law firms reward their employees by focusing on how much time has been spent working, regardless of the employee’s efficiency. In some major firms, such as Dewey & LeBeouf, lawyers were expected to work at minimum 1800 hours annually, and some law firms will even push that number as high as 2100!

Therefore, in other words, performance is measured entirely on time-spent working (often referred to as the billable hour) versus the quality of the lawyer’s work. A classic case of working harder but not smarter, and the result is that the lawyers are encouraged to be inefficient in order to bring in the most amount of money to the firms, which affects the clients with prohibitive costs. In fact, according to Forbes on May 2012, Dewey & LeBeouf ended up increasing prices by 75% over the past decade because of a focus on hours worked. The result is that their clients ended up cutting off connections with the company, costing the law firm potential profits and speeding their way to bankruptcy.

Instead of focusing on how much time is spent, law firms would be best served to focus on a performance-oriented system, because nowadays, with the advent of the internet, the need for mundane work has diminished while the need for expertise has risen. In the case of a litigation lawyer, the goal is to successfully argue on behalf of the client or provide domination information for their customers. All efforts that do not work toward that goal are costly distractions for both client and vendor.

Article reference: 

Why More Law Firms Will Go the Way of Dewey & LeBoeuf – Mark Harris – Forbes – May 8, 2013 – Retrieved from

Comments (5)

  1. Teja Reddy


    Its evident that many companies follow hours spent than work done system, with advent of technology work spent hours should be minimum and performance should be maximum. With proper dominant information these lawyers can achieve what they require. Organisations should come out of this traditional system and start work on performance based.

  2. Haitham


    The way most company follow is the the way the article talked about employers get paid by the time they work on something not the about the work they have done and how good is the work, so all the companies should start change this way to how good the employer finish the job not how much time he spent on it. This I have been trying to use with my life is how good I finish the thing and not by the time.

  3. Ethan


    Quotas are not incentives. This is an obvious case of decreased efficiency because of implemented control. The Firms perception is that if they get more hours out of their employees then they can increase value of their services from working harder. The opposite is the case in this situation because their prices had to increase so dramatically. This work requirement would have lawyers wasting clients time and money to meet their time quota and evidently decreases profits for the firm.

  4. Caleb Vanderploeg


    This kind of pay structure is not unique to law firms. My dad once told me that his work operates the same way, where he was paid based on how much time it took him to finish a job. He is a mainframe programmer for an insurance company and he said that he could finish a task quickly and then just wait out the clock until the deadline was reached and turn in his project then. He would get paid more and there were no motivations for him to finish his projects early. This structure is wasteful and encourages people to be lazy.

  5. Nick Galles


    It really is amazing that a law firm would put time requirements on their employees. I think you made a great connection to IMT and recognizing that more time does not lead to more/better work. Efficiency should be the focus rather than spending a certain amount of time on work.

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