"Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to bill an average of 2,000 hours per year as an individual contribution.”
For any mere mortal, this would feel like mission impossible. For Associates and Partners in large, corporate law firms this is life.
When you average it out, 2,000 chargeable hours per annum is 5.5 hours each and every day of the year (yes every day, including holidays, your birthday, your wedding day etc. etc.). It’s a tall order by anyone’s standards, especially when there are so many other non-billable things to consider, you know, like email, document administration, account management, thinking time…eating!
The thing is, the hours are advertised as “insane”; there’s no denying it, or trying to hide it. And lawyers are hardworking by nature, they wouldn’t have got into the job if they weren’t prepared to accept the balance between prestige and income vs. personal time and stress.
Associates contribute tirelessly and aim for promotion, perhaps hoping to become Partner one day. All the while knowing Partners probably have to dig even deeper to grow new business and feed those chargeable hours. But the funny thing is, it’s not like they are all heading out to pasture aged 55, many lawyers work well past the normal age of retirement – perversely addicted to the job perhaps.
When there is a deal in the offing or a transaction being closed, the pressure can be immense, but maybe it’s a rush? Each deal will be different; there will be new challenges; skilled negotiations will sharpen the mind. The process though is all too familiar, with its usual frustrations and inefficiencies.
The deal prep starts and the negotiations begin, the documents start getting drafted (and re-drafted), files are assembled, the due diligence happens and then the approvals and sign off take place. This is followed slowly, oh so very slowly, by the closing binder or bible. When everyone is ready to move onto the next project, the closing binder from the previous transaction is still hanging around, draining time, waiting to be finalized and delivered to the client.
In a PWC survey last year, 95% of law firms planned to undertake major IT projects to improve efficiency in 2016. But actually, it doesn’t have to be a major IT initiative that makes a fast and vast difference to efficiency in closing transactions. Workshare’s Deal Checklist and Closing Binder solution can make elements of the closing stages of a deal speed up by around 50% . And, the bible or closing binders can be delivered to a client within 48 hours of close every time.
So, that’s one fast, smart way to try achieve mission impossible.
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