Not enough hours in the day?
1 August, 2015

In many firms there is at least one fee earner who looks totally run off his/her feet but when you look at the results actually being achieved, there is something missing.  The general perception around the office is usually that this person is very busy and unless you are ‘in the know’ you would think he/she is a top performer.

Like your top performers, these fee earners might be the first to arrive each morning and the last to leave.  They may take loads of files home with them to work on.  Their staff are likely to complain that they don’t get enough supervision time.  Their life partners complain that they are always working and the person at the centre of all of this feels like he/she is drowning.  Sometimes, there is also a tendency to blame the situation on other factors rather than taking direct responsibility for the poor results being achieved.

Obviously, there is something very wrong with this situation, not just from a performance point of view but from the point of view of the fee earner’s health.  So how do you help this person to help him/herself?

  • Suggest that for a week or two the fee earner documents all time spent at work (not just billable time).  At the end of the week, review what wasn’t billable client work and work with the fee earner to come up with strategies to significantly reduce non billable time.  For those firms who use timesheets compare the billable time to your practice management system to see if there is a problem with time recording.The trick in this exercise to is to suggest more efficient ways of doing the non-billable stuff that fee earners need to do so they have more time for billable work.
  • Once you know where the week is getting off track, work with the fee earner to organise his/her day i.e. setting aside specific times for tasks such as returning phone calls, supervising staff and marketing.  Creating a structured approach to the day will allow the fee earner more time to be left uninterrupted to do billable work.
    Keep mentoring the fee earner until his/her workload is in control again and the results you want to see are being achieved.

Keep mentoring the fee earner until his/her workload is in control again and the results you want to see are being achieved.

If you would like a really simple and free tool to help with the exercise of tracking a fee earners day and comparing it to billable work, please email us and we will send it you.