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UMKC Law Review

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Although billable hour pressure has taken a toll on partners as well as associates, associates appear to be the most disenchanted casualties of the billable hour derby. In discussing attorney dissatisfaction, some authors have relied on the results of studies of law students and attorneys, noting that there is a limited amount of empirical data on the state of the profession. In an attempt to help fill the gap, I conducted an empirical study to gauge the effects of billable hour pressure and practices on the current crop of associates.

The information obtained in my study provides guidance in both analyzing problems and formulating workable solutions. For example, one expert asserts that attorneys generally will not accept lower compensation to work less because lawyers tend to be competitive and driven. Another perspective is that Generation- X associates appear to be a different breed of attorney desiring a balance in their work and personal lives. Associates' opinions enable academics, law firm managers and bar leaders to intelligently evaluate current concerns and shepherd the future of the legal profession.

Part I briefly describes the survey design and the general profile of the survey respondents. Part II discusses current billing practices and pressures analyzing the study results related to billing expectations and guidance as well as firm culture and work alternatives. Using findings from the study, Part III considers the detrimental micro and macro effects of increasing billable hour expectations. Finally, Part IV proposes various steps and measures that can be taken to address the negative consequences of emphasizing billable hour production.



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