What are average billable hour requirements at law firms?

Law firm billable hour requirementsBillable hour requirements are a fact of life in most law firms.  To budget for the salaries of the employees and the expenses of the law firm, there generally has to be some requirements in place.

If there is no billable hour requirement in place, the reality is that most law firms can get into budgetary problems.  This is especially true if a law firm is employing associate attorneys and paralegals.

It would be great if employees would simply be self-motivated, productive, and record enough time to meet the needs of the law firm.  The reality, however, is that minimum thresholds need to be set and communicated to employees in most environments to make sure the firm is fiscally sound.

Minimum requirements also make sure employees are being diligent, communicative, and competent in their representation of clients.  In other words, minimum requirements give employees an incentive to pick up a file and advance the interests of clients in moving cases forward versus letting files sit on shelves.

Certainly, there are certain areas of law where the law firm may be operating on contingency fees.  Or, there could be law firms in certain jurisdictions where flat fees might be ethically practical.  Even then, most law firms need some minimum thresholds in terms of revenue (or other metrics) to ensure the financial viability of the law firm.

As it relates to law firms where attorneys and paralegals are billing hourly, what are the minimum requirements?  Many law firm owners wonder what most law firms set as minimum requirements.

According to the Yale University School of Law, most law firms have minimum requirements between 1,700 and 2,300 hours.  As the article indicates, however, this can vary based on the size of the law firm and whether the law firm is in a metropolitan area.

If you have any thoughts, feel free to share them below.


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