Susan Smith Blakely

Oh Grow Up and Enter Your TIme ON TIME!

Do lawyers really need staff members nagging them to submit their billing logs on time?  One law firm seems to think so.

Lawyers being dilatory about entering their time logs qualifies as a "pet peeve" for me.  I understand how busy lawyers can be, and I logged plenty of billable time in my career.  But, one thing that I always recommend to junior lawyers is to fill out their time logs before they leave the office at the end of the day.  It's fundamental, Watson.

Time spent on client work should be entered when the time is "spent" or closely thereafter.  That is when the time allocation is likely to be most accurate and reliable.

I know lawyers who "back" into time logs and virtually try to recreate large stretches of time.  That is a lot of remembering that most busy lawyers are not going to get right, and it simply does not work unless the lawyer has only one client.

It is a real problem, and now a law firm is putting secretaries/legal assistants in the position of enforcers in their relationships with their bosses.  Do we really need more things for staff and lawyers to disagree about?  Have you been in the corridors of law firms lately?   Not a place for meditation, that is for sure.

As Joan Rivers would have said, "Oh, grow up!"  Lawyers need to take responsibility for themselves.  They should not need prodding and penalties and bonus reductions to do the right thing.  After all, it is about the client's money and how much the client is billed for legal services at the end of the month.

Time recording and allocation on a timely basis is a professional responsibility, and it is time that lawyers got it right.  It also makes the end of the month a lot more pleasant.  Those e-mails with midnight deadlines or else from managing partners can be alarming!

(Just for fun, think about this.  My instincts tell me that most of those dilatory timekeepers are men because, typically, they lack attention to details that annoy them and they do not multitask as well as women.  And, a man cannot be relied on for much else when he is worrying about the "big case."  They are one-thing-at-a-time guys.  Women not only change the diaper, make school lunches, file away mental notes about early childhood vaccination updates, apply for summer camps for the kiddies, AND worry about the big case.  Just sayin'!  In fact, I would like to see the stats on the dilatory time keepers by gender.  If you have them, send them my way.)

 

Susan Smith Blakely is the Founder of LegalPerspectives LLC and an award-winning, nationally-recognized author, speaker and consultant on issues related to young women lawyers, young women law students and young women interested in careers in the law.  She is author of Best Friends at the Bar:  What Women Need to Know about a Career in the Law (Wolters Kluwer/Aspen Publishers 2009), and Best Friends at the Bar:  The New Balance for Today's Woman Lawyer (Wolters Kluwer Law & Business 2012), which addresses the work-life struggle for women lawyers and includes twelve profiles of women who have successfully transitioned from one practice setting to another.  Her new book, Best Friends at the Bar:  Top-Down Leadership for Women Lawyers, focuses on the responsibilities of law firm leaders and was released by Wolters Kluwer Law & Business in July 2015.

Ms. Blakely frequently speaks at colleges and universities, law schools, law firms and law organizations, and she has been featured in media including the LA Daily Journal, National Jurist, Washington Examiner Newspaper, Forbes Woman, DC Spotlight, Daily Muse and Huffington Post Business.  Ms. Blakely also is a frequent guest speaker and panelist at conferences on women's issues and the law profession, and she has been a featured speaker at the US Department of Justice, Civil Division.  She is the recipient of the Ms. JD 2015 "Sharing Her Passion Award" for her work on behalf of women in the law.

Ms. Blakely graduated from the University of Wisconsin with distinction and from Georgetown University Law Center where she was a teaching fellow. She is a member of the CoachSource global network of leadership coaches and a career coach for the Indiana University Marshall Goldsmith Leadership Development and Executive Coaching Academy.   For more information, please visit www.bestfriendsatthebar.com. 

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