Monday, June 11, 2007

Hours vs. Efficiency

Attorneys at the law firm Heller Ehrman are floating the idea of eliminating the idea of billable hours as a way to keep women engaged in their careers. Given the way accounting firms bill, their conclusions could apply to our world as well. reports:

Studying how other professions have tackled the issue, the group laid out steps to eliminate obstacles -- like the inflexibility of the hours-heavy grind and the low percentage of female leaders -- that it says discourage women as well as an entire younger generation of lawyers from making a career at a big law firm.

Perhaps the most radical suggestion made by the opt-in project is to get rid of the billable hour. Lawyers should be measured by their productivity and efficiency instead, the group said.

"It's a huge issue for woman and that's because we still live in a world where woman still have more responsibility for raising children," said (HE Partner Patricia) Gillette. "It may cut into the hours you can bill, and yet it may not cut into your productivity."


The group points toward an innovative program at accounting giant Deloitte called Mass Career Customization, which allows its employees to adjust the pace of their career to deal with personal obligations without throwing them off the upward track.

"The opt-in project" is the name of the study group headed by Gillette. Heller Ehrman is considering its recommendations.

All in Favor of Axing the Billable Hour … []

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