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Save Your Firm $80,000 Per Employee By Cutting Back on Email

Larry Bodine writes that lawyers waste $80,000 a year reading e-mail, citing numbers produced by Ed Poll, a well-respected law practice consultant.  Here's how Ed arrived at his numbers:

"Based on personal experience, it is easy to estimate that most lawyers take about one or two hours each working day to 'clear out' their e-mail boxes," Ed says.  "If we assume 200 workdays per year (there are more), and two hours per day and $200 hour billable value for an attorney (most are charging more today), the calculation is $80K of wasted billable time annually.

"Given the rapidity of response that e-mails encourage, it's likely that very few lawyers are truly capturing the time that they're spending on legitimate client communications, like phone conversations and e-mail communications," Ed writes. "Yet lawyers are going so fast doing so many things, that they don't actually write down their time notation as they're working on e-mails.

"Client e-mail gets so enmeshed in what has been called 'administrivia' that their importance is not adequately accounted for.  The result is lost profitability."

Ed suggests that lawyers keep track of all time spent even answering e-mails, and while Larry agrees, he explains that you can't bill for responding to e-mails and voice mails in such as way as to make clients think that they're being nickel-and-dimed.  Larry's seems to favor building these types of smaller tasks into overhead.

I guess in the end, it's all a matter of degree.  Billing for a half hour spent listening to voice mail may be chintzy, but if you're answering e-mails for 10-14 hour stretches (like a Google exec mentioned by Wired GC), you may want to figure out a way to capture that time.

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on March 23, 2006 at 02:10 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

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