Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Billing Narrative

Here's a re-post from October 25, 2010, on billing.  This goes in my "practical skills" curriculum I'll someday design for a law school.

Just a short note is in order tonight, since I've spent most of my evening editing my bills for time recorded over the past four weeks for clients whose matters I supervise.  It's unfortunate that the lawyers who most need to understand that the time spent drafting their time entries are those individuals who are least likely to see the entries in context, and so have no idea how a little extra effort can make a huge difference in client satisfaction.  Thoughtfully written time entries take into account what was done yesterday and today, and will be done tomorrow.  When the time entries make sense of the tasks performed, the people involved, and the work done, billing by the hour can make tremendous sense to the client.

Recently my alma mater sought input from alumni on the law school curriculum.  Unfortunately I couldn't attend the meetings because of schedule conflicts, but I do have a proposal.  I think that probably the most valuable course that could be added to the law school curriculum would be a practical skills course that required law students to write, review, and pay (from a limited fictional budget), the legal fees for a variety of tasks.  In fact, I think I could design that curriculum!  Many young lawyers work for years without seeing how the billing cycle plays out, from the time entries, through the billing partner edits and write-offs, to the client review and questioning, and finally the payment.  I do think it would be a very useful thing for the legal profession for more young lawyers to be connected to the invoicing cycle so that they could understand what work is appreciated and compensated by the clients, and what work is not.


Friday, July 20, 2012

Legally Mom

My faithful readers know that I failed as a mother.  I couldn't keep my oldest child out of law school.  He's readying himself to take the Bar exam next week, and I think I am more anxious about his test than I ever was about my own, some 24 years ago when he was a toddler.  Go figure.

I was also chatting this week with a colleague that I hadn't seen in many years, but for whom I hosted a baby shower on the occasion of her first child, now eleven years old.  She's now juggling three kids, age 11, 8 and 3, and her career.  That's certainly the center of the storm, with hardly a spare moment to breathe  I loved hearing about her career success and the wonderful things her kids bring to her life.

Coincidentally, last week I picked up "Legally Mom" from the ABA Bookstore.  It's a nice compendium of real stories from contemporary women attorneys practicing law, but I have to admit some of the stories seem far from the experiences I had when I was in the midst of the balancing act--when my kids were in preschool, middle school and high school.  And that was back in the days without smart phones.  And, more importantly, when the KIDS didn't all have smart phones.  In any event, it's an interesting read for new moms, if not much help for moms with older kids who are frantically juggling everything (they won't have time to read it anyway, so I guess it targets the right demographic).  Some of the stories seem a little idealistic and naive when the story follows a mom just starting out with one or two young kids.

As we talked, my friend and I chuckled about the rapid erosion of parenting idealism as the kids took control of our lives.  I told her, and I'll tell  you all, that a nutritious well rounded high quality organic free range diet was one of the first ideals that I let go.  And apparently that worked out okay, at least for the oldest child.  I swear he ate nothing but Honey Nut Cheerios for a decade.  And now he's about to become a lawyer...I think.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Competent AND Liked

It's not newsworthy I suppose to talk about the trade off women have to make between being liked or being respected.  Studies have shown that women  leaders are perceived as competent or liked, but rarely both.  It's actually exhausting to try to be both.  If you need some emotional support from time to time you might like to visit with the Heartless Bitches International.  Just remember not to let the desire to be respected as an adult appear to equate with man-hating.  As HBI succinctly puts it:  

We don't discriminate against stupidity, arrogance, irresponsibility, bloated egos, or immaturity on the basis of gender.