Thus began an October 15 article in “Above the Law” — one of the leading news websites directed at lawyers — particularly lawyers employed by law firms as “associates”.
Under the headline “Biglaw Firm Makes It That Much Harder to Get Your Bonus”, here’s the complete text of the first paragraph:
“As we enter the home stretch to make billable hour targets in advance of bonus season, one firm is changing the ground rules on its associates and robbing them of a small but significant chunk of time that they’ve always been able to count toward their 2100 hour minimum.”
Quite appropriately the reporter focuses on what this means for specific interests of the law firm associates who are his readers.
But for a business lawyer concerned with managing a company’s legal affairs, what jumps out is something else. This is a timely reminder of the cockroach-like survival of the billable hour — and of its business model corollary: The pursuit of “associate leverage”.