Meeting Client Needs: How Law Firms Can Increase Client Diversity While Decreasing Client Costs
Theresa (Terri) M. Beiner
University of Arkansas at Little Rock - William H. Bowen School of Law
March 7, 2012
UALR Bowen School Research Paper No. 11-10
This article takes on two competing concerns that currently plague corporate counsel – the desire for a diverse legal workforce and a need to lower the costs of outside counsel. In-house corporate counsel can achieve both these objectives by insisting that their outside counsel work less. Using data from a variety of disciplines, the article shows that not only are large law firms difficult places for women to succeed, but they also foster work environments that are inefficient and therefore cost clients more. Lowering billable hours will help solve both these problems. Using studies of sleep deprivation and sleep restriction, this article explores what clients are getting for their money from sleep deprived high billable hour lawyers. It is clear that both sleep deprivation and chronic sleep restriction impair the average person’s ability to function on many levels – including neurocognitive performance that has important implications for lawyering. In addition, studies of workplace productivity have shown that limiting working hours can actually increase productivity. Studies of lawyers suggest that high billable hour requirements exacerbate the difficulties women have in practice, especially for those women who have family responsibilities. This leads to high drop out rates from law firm practice that hurt both law firms and their clients. Lowering billable hours will increase the possibility that women will succeed in these workplaces while making lawyers more efficient. Thus, limiting hours logically should produce more efficient and better lawyering while making law firms more feasible work environments for women.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 58working papers series
Date posted: August 30, 2011 ; Last revised: April 27, 2012
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