By Alison C. Schurick, Esq. and Jessica Corace, Esq.
Billable hours are important building blocks in your legal career. Here are a few tips to help you succeed.
- Don’t Shave Your Hours. You are working hard – so get the credit you deserve! Don’t shave your hours before submitting them to the billing attorney (even if you don’t want anyone to know that you spent 8 hours researching something, to no avail). If the billing attorney doesn’t want to pass all of your time onto the client, let them make that decision.
- Bill As You Go. Don’t try to recreate your time at the end of the day. It’s difficult to remember what you did earlier that day, let alone what you did last week. To accurately capture your entire time, best practice is to bill as you go.
- Know Client Billing Guidelines. Take time to review client billing guidelines, if any, in advance. Yes, this is a non-billable task, but it will save you time having to revise your entries on the back-end or, worse, having your time rejected!
- Bill for “Extra-Curricular” Activities (If Allowed). Ask your firm if there are billing codes for “extra-curricular” activities — e.g., bar association work, marketing, client development, community service, etc. Even if these activities do not go to your actual billable requirement, log them if you can. Doing so will show that you are allocating time for these important activities and spending your time wisely. Non-billable work can be just as valuable as your billable work.
- Not Every Day Will Be a “Successful” Billing Day. Understand that not all work is billable and you won’t be able to max out your billables every single day. Set realistic daily, weekly and monthly goals – but don’t get discouraged if you fall behind once or twice!
Alison C. Schurick is a member of Baker Donelson’s Government Enforcement and Investigations Practice Group.
Jessica Corace is with Franklin & Prokopik, where she concentrates her active litigation practice in the area of liability defense, including construction, commercial transportation, auto, premises liability, and general civil litigation.